• Patreon: A Home for the Musical Melodyians?

    Become my patronJanuary of this year marked a significant change for the future of the Musical Melodyians after my collaborator, Scott Tooby, and I made a consorted intention to develop this project from a transmedia art experiment to a more sustainable creative venture.  Thus, we have turned to Patreon — a crowdfunding platform that derives its model (and name) from the arts patronage system, characteristic of the Renaissance.

    This video best summarizes what we’re trying to do and what we need funding for. So if you you’re into what we’re doing, please support us and share this with your friends!

    A big thanks to the team at Donegee Media who helped us piece together this video.

  • J+C Magazine: Spring Edition (5 of 6)

    As an ode to Throwback Thursday #TBT, I am publishing the fifth edition of J+C Magazine – a self-published tabloid magazine that I created with my best friend in the early 2000s. We were snarky to say the least, with a particular bloodlust for Christina Aguilera and a pure reverence for the saintly Britney Spears.

    Check out this issue for a deeper look into J. Lo and P. Diddy’s breakup, the controversy surround the 2001 SuperBowl Half-time show, and our picks for best celebrity couples. Welcome to celebrity tabloid culture from the 2001 from the lens of two suburban LA tweens.

    Also make sure to check out Issue 1, Issue 2, Issue 3 and Issue 4. Stay tuned for the last issue next week!

    J+C Magazine: Front Cover
    J+C Magazine: Front Cover
    Whoa. There's a lot going on here. Is that Destiny's Child I see?
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  • Interview with Scott Tooby: Making Melodyians and Music

    With the recent release of The Musical Melodyian EP (available on Bandcamp), music producer, Scott Tooby, reflects on how he created the cosmic tunes for this transmedia production as well as his thoughts on the ever-precarious future of music.

    J. Sayuri: What was the vision behind the sound and music of the Musical Melodyian EP?

    Scott Tooby: To create music that is evocative of alien landscapes and musical traditions. This was an experiment to imagine what music made by other life forms might sound like. But since I wanted to keep the music somewhat accessible and grounded, I decided to experiment with the idea that alien music might have a lot of commonalities with our own (tonal centers, modes, physical instruments, rhythm, meter).

    I utilized many different kinds of acoustic ethnic instruments, human and animal vocal samples as my sound sources. I then processed these to recast them in a more “alien” light – creating a music that sounds foreign but somewhat familiar at the same time because it’s derived from earthly sounds and arranged into common formal structures.

    The Musical Melodyian Logo

    See more of this transmedia production on www.musicalmelodyians.com

    JS: Tell me a little bit about how you produced the tracks of the EP?

    ST: The music of the EP is derived from audio samples, recordings, and musical sketches I’ve been compiling for the past two years in addition to some new material I created in the final weeks before releasing the EP. More than three-fourths of the voices in “Drim Drim” and about half in “Hobijobi” are resampled recordings of me playing acoustic ethnic instruments (djembes, gongs, Thai woodwinds, kalimbas). The remainder of voices are derived from my collection of synthesizers and drum machines (primarily a Korg R3, Volca Beats, and Roland JD-990).

    Many of the featured voices on the EP are resampled versions of acoustic instruments I recorded (like the hyperactive djembe solo at the start of “Drim Drim”). This resampling process was time intensive. I’d record individual notes of an instrument, edit them into discrete audio samples, and compile a comprehensive library of all the sounds that particular instrument could make to create a “virtual” version with virtual sampler instrument software (Kontakt).

    By playing on a MIDI keyboard or programming sequences in my music production software (Logic), I can trigger the prerecorded audio samples, process them further, and create new types of sounds from these instruments that wouldn’t otherwise be possible when playing them live in the real world. This isn’t a new concept in music production practice, but by accentuating the glitches and unnatural quirks I got out of this process I was able to create the alien instrument sounds I was envisioning.

    Meditations on Mount Kromtor was produced differently than the other tracks. It was assembled as a heavily processed sound collage derived from a single synth performance as well as recordings of birds and whales.

    : How did the narrative of the Musical Melodyians influence how you produced the music?

    ST: I don’t think there’s a concrete active influence – I think it’s more subconscious.  I don’t plan my Melodyian music and sonic palette around a literal interpretation of the narrative, I’m inspired by the Melodyians’ visual aesthetic and character imagery to make sounds and music that I think fits the general “Melodyian vibe.” In this way, I’m constantly adding to my palette of sounds so that the Melodyian sound always evolves in step with the larger transmedia project.

    JS: What is your vision for the future for the Musical Melodyians and your development as a composer and music maker?

    ST: Aside from continuing to develop the narrative aspects of the larger transmedia project, I plan to develop the Musical Melodyians as instruments. I’ve already created prototypes of Melodyian digital synthesizers housed within 3D-printed robot shells, but I want to expand this and create new forms of electroacoustic instruments that I can use for future music projects. Eventually I’d like to create Melodyian instruments that other musicians could use for their own music-making.

    As a composer, I’m inspired by other composers like Harry Partch and Raymond Scott who built their own instruments in pursuit of creating the exact kind of music they wanted to make. I aim to do this as well, create my own instruments, and become a self-sufficient music maker.

    JS: Do you see a sustainable future for music producers?

    ST: Historically it’s never been easy for musicians and artists to make a living from their work. Even though the digital music revolution has brought about exciting new models for music distribution and enabled virtually anyone with a laptop to produce and distribute their own music, it’s certainly not any easier to make a living in music. The US and global music industry revenues were at all time highs in 1999, but starting in 2000 crashed for over a decade after the digital music revolution exploded. Global music industry revenues still haven’t bounced back to their pre-1999 levels.

    The digital music people consume today is intangible, so it’s inherently easy to overlook its value versus a physical product. Unless you’re buying a vinyl record or CD, the general expectation is that music should be free, which is why some would argue it’s never been harder for artists to make a living from their music. I personally believe if you’re a fan of an artist’s music, you should support them by buying their music.

    Buy Music!
    But I’m encouraged to see new forms of online crowd-funding like Patreon, which enable fans of creators to support them in a sustainable on-going basis – much like traditional art patronage systems dating back to medieval Europe and beyond. I’m also a fan of BandCamp, which allows fans to pay music creators directly for their work and sidestep conventional music distribution venues like iTunes. This is the only place where you can purchase the Musical Melodyian EP currently. (Only $4 – that’s less than a drink at a bar. What a steal! Buy it and support the Musical Melodyian project! Okay, ending brazen self-promotion.)

    If music producers and artists are going to have a sustainable future, I think we’ll need to innovate and create new models for profiting from our work that are fit for the reality of our modern world. But by studying the past,  I don’t think we’ll have to completely reinvent the wheel.

    JK: Any advice for other music producers?

    ST: With unprecedented quantities of music content flooding the Internet, I think modern producers have a social responsibility to be extra mindful about the music they put out into the world. As a producer are you releasing music that’s contributing something new, or just adding to the noise? I think we should always strive for the former.

    Keep making music and don’t wait for inspiration, life’s too short.

    Be Yourself.

  • 3 Lessons for Success at the Tag Gallery

    I went to a group painting show at the Tag Gallery at Bergamont Station in Santa Monica, CA last Saturday afternoon (April 10, 2015) for an artist talk with painters: Betty Sheinbaum, Daniel Janotta, and Shelley Lazarus.  The conversation was intimate and moreover, it was refreshing to listen to these seasoned artists talk honestly about their work, their process, and their goals for the future.

    During the Q+A session towards the end of the conversation, I had a chance to ask a question that I’ve been thinking, talking, and writing about a lot recently — How do you become a successful artist?

    Let’s be honest–it’s easy to be an artist. You don’t need a degree, you don’t need fancy tools, or a lot of money. All you really need is the drive and willingness to make art. The real challenge, though, is becoming successful as an artist. Phrased in another way: How do artists translate their ambitions and art into something that is sustainable for their lives?

    Daniel Janotta and Shelley Lazarus offer these three words-of-wisdom for artists.

    The Artists and Moderator

    Photo credit: Rakeem Cunningham

    1. Be a Good Business Person

    Many talented artists deny themselves of financial success and stability because they are so caught up in the process of making art that they forget they have to eat. I’ve seen this before and I’ll probably see it again, but I don’t want to fit into the ‘starving artist’ mold.

    That’s why Daniel Janotta’s advice resonated strongly with me.  He touched on some specifics of good business strategies like making a good website, having a social media presence, and developing a marketing plan.  These are all things that I’ve been working hard on for the past two years so I’m happy that he touched on these more technical aspects of self-marketing.

    I’ve been taking a more business-minded approach to some of my own projects including my harmonographics and my all-encompassing transmedia project, The Musical Melodyians that I have been working on for the past three years.

    2. Don’t Fear Rejection

    Shelley Lazarus was emphatic about this point and who can blame her? If artists quit after the first or third or hundreth time they were rejected, we would not study the great artists like Vincent Van Gogh or Pablo Picasso.

    This advice reminded me of a time when I ‘quit’ art for about three years in my adolescence when my grief-stricken and beloved art teacher coldly informed me that I should give up art because there was no way I would get better or make it.  Looking back at that time, I wish I was more resilient to rise gracefully from that rejection.

    Rising from the ashes is a constant journey, especially when rejection seems to be around every corner. I can honestly say that I no longer fear rejection, but it doesn’t make the pill easier to swallow.

    It’s all a process, I suppose.

    Examining Dan Janotta's Paintings

    Photo credit: Rakeem Cunningham

    3. Be Comfortable with Seeing your Work

    Another tasty tidbit from Shelley was being 100% comfortable with seeing your artwork and your name anywhere and everywhere — in coffee shops, galleries, your bedroom, your kitchen, your friend’s house, etc. I’ve heard this advice before and it’s a good one!  Seeing your work prominently displayed forces artists to think and talk intelligently about their artwork which makes for better conversations and eventually better art!

    Not only does putting your work in various places increase the chances of someone else seeing (and buying) your work, looking at your work helps develops self-confidence and also demonstrates progress.  I sometimes revisit my work from college and think: ‘WOW, I’ve come a long way.’

    I recommend this to anyone who doubts their artistic abilities. On the days when I’m feeling down, looking back really helps me move forward.

    The Attendees at the Painting Show

    Photo credit: Rakeem Cunningham

    A layer of mystique and misunderstanding often masks the creative decisions that artists make in their art making process.  That’s why it is important to dedicate a space and time to understanding the people and their intentions behind the art.  Because honestly, most of us take art and artists for granted.

    A big thank you to Betty Sheinbaum, Shelley Lazarus, and Daniel Janotta and the team at Tag Gallery.  It was very insightful and inspiring to listen to these experienced artists talk about their art and offer their advice.

  • Transmedia: The Musical Melodyians and the Future of Storytelling

    The Musical Melodyian Transmedia Project
    For the past three years, I have been working on a collaborative art/music/technology project called The Musical Melodyians with multimedia producer, Scott Tooby. In the process of developing this project, I have grown as an artist as well as a businesswoman. Scott in turn, whose background was in music composition, has grown as a product developer and programmer.  Our continued goal for this project has been to create a rich story Universe that draws upon multiple media sources like a graphic novel, music, videos, photography, and social media to tell the tale of a musical alien race that lands in Los Angeles, CA.

    An important recent development in the Musical Melodyian project has been –MUSIC!  Please stay tuned for our EP that will be available for purchase on Bandcamp. P.S. Bandcamp is a great platform for music artists to release their work and get paid. Imagine that!

    Now that we have been piecing together a nice collection of content that revolves around the Melodyian concept, I think back to a time when there was a nagging voice in the back of my head (the one finds calm in labeling and categorizing everything).  This voice constantly attacked me with questions like: “What the hell is this?” and “What do you call this kind of thing?”

    Apparently, it’s called Transmedia Storytelling.

    The Musical Melodyian Story Universe
    After discussing our writing projects and my worries about not having a succinct word to describe the nature of my project, my good friend and colleague, mas Prower introduced me to the word: transmedia — a simple and powerful way to describe this form of storytelling in which the narrative (and marketing) evolves from the symbiosis of different media sources.

    Damn, it’s helpful to have smart friends! I know that Tómas has been working towards transmedia storytelling for his upcoming book, Santa Muerte: Unearthing the Magic & Mysticism of Death which will be available in the fall of 2015.  I am curious to see how Tómas will use transmedia storytelling not only to promote his book but develop his story.  Thinking about how Tómas is using transmedia and I am been using transmedia makes me think about the future of storytelling and how much storytelling has changed in just a decade.

    It’s difficult to talk intelligently about the changing landscape of transmedia storytelling without talking about the Internet boom.

    The Internet was a huge game-changer. That’s a fact. Whether or not the Internet changed the world for good or bad — that’s up for debate, but I am of the mindset that the Internet has been a generally good development for humankind. New social platforms have boomed, giving ways for new voices to be heard with the click of a button. This created a storm of shitty content (but hey, we’re all guilty of watching cat videos), but also opened a path for many artists to get their voices heard.

    I am excited to witness and take part in a future where artists experiment with innovative ways to share their work and develop their stories.  More specifically though, I wonder if the future will be a place where both creators and consumers can live harmoniously.  In this future, the consumer values the creator’s work by financially supporting them and their projects.  Some feel like this future is unattainable and overly idealistic, but for artists and creators like myself, solving these issues is a matter of survival. Sustainability is what I strive for. Maybe transmedia is the answer.

    If you are a transmedia artist, please share your experiences in the comment box below. If you have questions about my transmedia project, please feel free to ask questions!