Back in November 2007, more than a year into my relationship with my now-fiancee, Alison, I had recorded an early, instrumental version of a song for her. I had worked out some lyrics for the choruses and the first verse, but that was it.
Because Elvis Costello wrote the ultimate song called “Alison” — a song my Alison can’t stand, by the way — I just couldn’t bring myself to call it that. Hence, I constructed the name “Alliel” by combining my fiancee’s first name and her last initial. My Alison only spells her name with one l, but “Alliel” looks better than “Aliel” so I added the extra l into the song title.
Anyway, a few days ago, Alison went to a baby shower, leaving me home alone to clean and do some things around the house. Instead, I fired up GarageBand on my MacBook, finished writing the lyrics, changed/added some of the piano parts from the 2007 demo and recorded a more finished demo version of “Alliel.”
I realize my voice isn’t the greatest, but once I start recording vocals, I seem to always find myself trying to do some interesting things with harmonies. And then I added the “big vocals” at the end of the song, which was inspired by a Trevor Rabin (former Yes guitarist who does a lot of composing for films these days) solo album from the late 80s.
You might recall that a couple of months ago, I entered a “best piano/keyboard performance” contest on a web site called TalentTrove.com. I came in second place by one or two votes, mostly because the rules said one date was the final day of voting while the voting system itself was set to end 2 1/2 days earlier.
Anyway, despite that experience, I have entered another TalentTrove.com contest…this time for music considered “electronica.”
Now, even when I was into mostly synthesizers, sequencers, samplers and drum machines, I never really considered myself in the genre of “electronica.” I always thought of myself as pop, techno or — in the early 90s — industrial.
And techno-industrial is what I want to talk about right now. As I have written many times before on this blog, my friend Christian Beach and I have worked together musically — on and off — since 1986 or ’87, I guess. While we were in the ill-fated band TMC & The New Generation (a techno/pop/rap project that I like to describe as “Run DMC meets Depeche Mode”), Christian and I started listening to music generally classified as industrial or — in some cases — cyberpunk. In any case, we really started to get into Ministry, Front 242, Nine Inch Nails, and Nitzer Ebb, among others. Hence, our writing started getting heavier and our songs became angrier and full of more samples. At this point, we convinced our rapper that we needed a name change and we began calling ourselves Interläken Probe, which borrowed from the name of the town to the west of Allenhurst, NJ, as well as the model of car I was driving at the time (a Ford Probe). The “ä” was used to make it look European.
Anyway, one of the last things we worked on as Interläken Probe was a song called “Don’t Lose The Groove.” The phrase had been mentioned during the recording of another song, but it had always stuck with me. When I was trying to come up with lyrics for “Groove,” I thought the phrase fit pretty well in the chorus. In the context of the song, it referred to the idea of the human race all flowing with the groove, and that each of us does our part to screw everything up by losing the groove every now and then (some more than others, of course)…kind of like a record skipping when a needle loses the groove.
OK…back to the present. While thinking about the TalentTrove.com electronica contest, I decided to update one of my old techno songs and submit that for the competition. But which one?
Well, that answer came to me when I stumbled upon “Don’t Lose The Groove” on my iPod. I decided to rerecord “Groove” into GarageBand on my MacBook and bring it a little up to date.
First, I tamed it by removing the samples. While keeping touches of its industrial origins, I made it a more of a dance track. I tried to actually sing the lyrics instead of screaming them like I did in the original. But it just sounded better when I screamed them…although the newer version features more restrained and refined vocals than the original.
Just wanted to update my blog readers on the TalentTrove.com contest I had been writing about. Although the official contest rules stated that voting would end at midnight on Sunday, June 7, the poll used for the voting was setup to stop taking votes at 11:21 a.m. this morning for some reason.
I sent an e-mail to TalentTrove.com for clarification asking about the official end date and all I received back was what looked like an auto-reply because it didn’t answer my question. Actually, it raised more questions since the message it sent back to me included this:
TalentTrove will post the top finalists on Friday May 29th 10 AM and voting will last until Sunday June 7th at Midnight. The winner will be announced Monday June 8th at 10 AM.
But the poll is still closed so I guess voting — and the contest — is over a bit ahead of schedule, which is kind of lame.
My song “Vortex (2009)” lost by one vote, but I would like to congratulate fellow New Jerseyan Dennis Crocker for his contest-winning “55 MPH.”
Thank you to all who supported me in this endeavor.
“Vortex (2009)” is a reworked version of a techno instrumental song I originally wrote in 1992 or so, featuring the sounds of a Roland Jupiter synthesizer I used to have. You can listen to it on the song’s TalentTrove.com media page, or you can listen to it using the embedded player below.
It is a tight race and “Vortex (2009)” is in second place as I write this. Voting ends this Sunday night (June 7), shortly before midnight.
Now, you do need to register on TalentTrove.com in order to vote, but I would greatly appreciate it if you went the extra step to support me — and my song — in this contest. Besides, you may have a talent you want to share with the world and TalentTrove.com may be the place for you to do that.
As I posted yesterday, I recently learned of an online talent community called TalentTrove.com, which holds a series of talent contests among its members. The site just finished accepting submissions for Best Piano/Keyboard Performance and I managed to submit a reworked techno song from my past called “Vortex.” It’s not really what I am into these days, but of all the songs I have written and recorded over the years, “Vortex” seemed to best capture the spirit of this particular contest.
Anyway, I am happy to report that “Vortex” is indeed one of four nominees for Best Piano/Keyboard Performance on TalentTrove.com.
I would love for my friends to support me in this endeavor, especially since the prize is $100. However, in order to vote, you need to be a member of TalentTrove.com, so there is a level of commitment involved.
But since so many of my friends are talented artists who could probably benefit from the tools provided by TalentTrove.com, such as media uploads and social networking features, I think you might wind up enjoying the site.
In any case, I really hope you enjoy the song. If you go the extra step to vote for me, I want you to know your efforts will be greatly appreciated.
And thank you to TalentTrove.com for this opportunity!
So I recently became aware of a great online community called TalentTrove.com, which I kind of think of as “Star Search 2.0.” Basically, it is one big talent search site featuring all the social networking tools you know and love (friends, messaging, forums, and — most recently — blogs).
What sets it apart from other social networking sites is that TalentTrove.com puts an emphasis on getting talented artists — spanning several disciplines (which I’ll get to later) — discovered by the rest of the community, as well as external audiences. This creates a network of friends all supporting each other’s creative endeavors. Through the daily “Stage of the Day” profile (profiles are referred to as “stages”…or a person’s “MyStage”) and the editor’s picks featured on the home page, the site promotes the talents of its own members to both the TalentTrove.com community and to external visitors.
In addition, there is TalentTrove.com Radio and TalentTrove.tv. TalentTrove Radio provides streaming audio of programs and music featuring the audio-based talent found on the site. TalentTrove.tv, meanwhile, provides channel-based navigation of the user-generated videos found on TalentTrove.com.
The site also has regular contests, such as Best Comedian, Best Cover Band, Best Singer, Best Guitar Solo, Best Drum Solo, etc., which are voted on by other members of the TT.com community (more on these later).
And getting back to what kind of talent is on TalentTrove.com…well, it’s probably easier to talk about what talents are NOT featured on TalentTrove.com, because almost any kind of talent imaginable is showcased on the site. Of course, you have your musicians, bands and singers. But you also have actors, comedians, writers, dancers, culinary artists, craftspeople…just go to TalentTrove.com and click on “categories” to see for yourself.
The site can also be used by people seeking an online portfolio, as TalentTrove.com accepts uploads in the form of audio, video, photos and text (and the upload process is pretty easy). Another great feature is that it allows you to copy videos you may have already uploaded to YouTube so you don’t have to go through the trouble of uploading the same video to your TalentTrove.com profile (or stage).
While TalentTrove.com is a relatively young company, it has received some pretty strong press and it appears to be gaining a devoted following.
OK, back to the talent contests. TalentTrove.com was recently seeking submissions for a Best Piano/Keyboard Peformance contest. Now, I know I’m not that great of a keyboard player, but there was this techno thing called “Vortex” I recorded back in the early 1990s that I thought would be my best option for the contest. Even though techno really isn’t my thing anymore, I felt it best represented a full keyboard peformance. Even though all of my songs are keyboard-based, I cover a lot of the crappy playing with fake strings and stuff that take the emphasis off the actual keyboard playing.
However, the only recorded version of “Vortex” I have was done on an old 4-track cassette recorder and the song is poorly mixed with a couple of audio glitches thrown in, as well.
So I decided to try to record the song entirely from scratch using GarageBand on my MacBook. I didn’t have much time to do this either, but I managed to remember how most of it went. I didn’t necessarily need it to be an exact copy of the original. I just wanted to capture the spirit and feel of the original song while updating it a bit. Unfortunately, a lot of the sounds on the original recording came from an old Roland Jupiter synthesizer I had for a few years. However, I sold it to Christian Beach’s former keyboard player in Slave of Id and Artists That Kill. That meant I was going to have to settle for the weak sounds included with GarageBand instead of the fat, warm Jupiter sounds featured on the original. But I still think it came out pretty well, considering I was trying to reconstruct a 17-year-old song while working under a tight deadline with little time to spare.
Anyway, I submitted “Vortex” to the TalentTrove.com contest. The finalists will be revealed tomorrow (Friday, May 29) at 10 a.m., but even if it’s not among the candidates, I am glad the contest inspired me to bring another old song of mine back to life.
You can listen to the new version of “Vortex” by going to its media page on my TalentTrove.com stage, or by using the embedded player below.
Like I said, this isn’t really my kind of music anymore, but let me know what you think.