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.

Do I Really Talk That Fast?

I was interviewed a few weeks ago for Small World Podcast, a show that interviews people from all walks of life, from all over the world. It was weird. And fun. And difficult. On the spot, feeling a bit nervous, trying to come up with stuff to say about my music, trying not to sound pompous, trying not to be boring, trying to be genuine and not self-conscious…

Well, it’s been posted today and, after listening, I think it’s not bad for my first interview. Some excellent editing makes me sound smoother and less long-winded than I actually was. The only part that kinda bugs me is what I said about my song “The End of the Road.” I talk about the fact that it’s in a 5/4 time signature (The thrills! The chills!), and the fact that there’s a ukulele in it, and that ukuleles can’t sound sad…except it’s kind of a sad song. Ah, well.

Take a listen, and let me know if I sound like more of a dork than usual.

Small World Podcast

A New and Different Way for Me to Procrastinate!

When I’m feeling musically uninspired, but still want to be creative, I really enjoy going out with my digital camera for a few hours. Maybe because photography is a “hobby” and music is a “career,” taking pictures sometimes feels more like playing. That said, photography is a hobby I take seriously. I’m proud of the work I’ve done and I like to show it off.

So…I’ve started a photoblog. It’s at The design is definitely a work-in-progress, but it’s up and running. I think I have enough of a backlog of photos so that, between old and new shots, I’ll be able to post about one a day. And, of course, there’s an RSS feed so you can subscribe and a comments link so spammers can post meaningless crap.

More Podcasts Playing My Music!

A couple new podcasts played my music on their shows. It’s a Purl, Man is a show about knitting by “a guy in Boston with yarn issues.” Audiotelegramm is a show from Germany! I have no idea what the guy is saying, but…cool!

I don’t know what will come of all this, but it sure is fun and gratifying to know that people are enjoying my music enough to want to integrate it into their creative work and share it with the world.

Here is a Song

Been a while since I’ve had a new song. Been even whiler since I had a song with vocals (unless you count “You Should Surf“). And even whilerer since I did a full production with harmonies and such. I have, however, been working very hard on another project: the Not Writing any Songs project. Although great progress has been made, I decided to take a break to write “Why Don’t You Change?”

Enjoy the podcast or download it from this specially designed link here.

Ten Instrumentals – Download on the Audio Page

If you enjoyed the Ten Instrumentals in podcast format, you can download all of them on the audio page. If you did not enjoy the Ten Instrumentals in podcast format, you can still download them on the audio page, but I don’t recommend it.

If, however, you tried to enjoy the Ten Instrumentals in podcast format, but could not figure out how, that does not make you a bad person. It just means you have priorities other than staring at a computer all day…like having a career, or getting married, or having a baby or something dumb like that. You can still download the songs on the audio page.