Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Surviving Winter 2021

Time flies when you're having fun! I somehow forgot to update this for 5 months - and you know it's bad, because after my last post about a Radio Eroticism album, this post is about another, totally different Radio Eroticism album I'll be releasing hopefully in the next few months, once I get 60 seconds to finish mixing it! The long-awaited Earth Drowning record with Herian Egan on violin and additional vocals is finally done and sounds very cool - I won't publish an official release date, since the last time I did that was "Spring 2020", which definitely didn't happen, but it definitely shouldn't overrun by another 18 months!

Now that the gigs are starting to come back, I've played a couple of gigs recently with Scriptures, and have a few more upcoming with Great Manta and Heart Beats Funk! It's great to be back on the scene, especially since I've been locked in a rehearsal room for the last 2 years, so I'm able to get away with even more cool stuff to upset other band members with 7:3 polyrhythms and horrible metric modulations, not least since taking a couple of lessons with Virgil Donati and Chad Wackerman over the summer - two of my musical idols, and certainly two of the drummers I've learned the most from, even before taking lessons with them!

 I've also started taking vocal lessons with Marianna Zappi, which should make for some significant improvements to the Chasmhead record that's still in-progress! The Prefers to Hide in the Dark EP is pretty much finished, so once that's mixed we'll light the fuse on releasing that pretty soon and start working on even more cool music - on top of the solo material I've been slowly putting together over the last few months! Karate School of Peace and Harmony has asked me to play some keys for an upcoming EP that I've already heard and am very excited to be involved with, but I've no idea when that will come to fruition, nor the Great Manta album I tracked drums for last year. I expect that 2022 will mean an awful lot of projects I've been part of will suddenly all launch at once, so it should make for quite an exciting year!

As always, I'm working a lot and sleeping very little - normally that means I finish off by saying "please contact me so I can fit you in" but I'm starting to run up against the raw limitations of linear time - so if you're interested in hiring me as a teacher, tutor, performer or producer, best hit my Contact page sooner rather than later, because there's a very real chance I'll have to reboot the waiting list. Still, there are worse things to be than busy in a crisis...!

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Abysm di Ghonstov, Karateka Wife Lieder

 Suffice it to say that there have been some structural changes going on at Degan Galen Music! I'm pretty sure all my students know everything now, which means it's back to work as normal, but it's certainly an exciting time - and it's nice to say that in a genuine rather than sarcastic way, given how wild the last year has been!

I've got a couple extra qualifications to add to the CV this month (or rather, next month when the results come back), and a whole host of new projects on the go. The Radio Eroticism - Karateka Wife album and book are now out! The first chapter of the book, "Astepocles' Harness", is available for free, and the rest of the 84-page e-book is for sale at £3.99 - you can contact me for a copy.

I'm singing for a new progressive rock project, Chasmhead, which is an international collaboration with Mucous Lavender - the material is very exciting, and I'm looking forward to releasing more information about that soon! Weirdly enough I'm also collaborating with Mucous on a totally different album as drums for Prefers to Hide in the Dark, which is more of the same but in a slightly more Tool/ Radiohead direction - and with a much better singer. The music is very exciting, and I expect that to be coming out some time later this year.

I'm still teaching a lot, but I've been working for Pirate Studios over the last year, keeping their local Nottingham studio ticking over - it's a very different challenge to keeping my own studio running, but luckily they've just got me in charge of keeping the gear together, after I found the hardest and least efficient methods possible to botch-carpentry my own studio together!

It's a very exciting time to be working - I've got a lot of projects about to conclude in the next year, and I'm finally in a position where I'm not hanging on by the fingernails to keep the studio working! I don't expect to start getting more than 60 seconds of sleep a night again any time soon, but in the mean time, if you're looking for tuition, composition, or transcription, drop me a message on the contact page, because I've always got time for one more thing!

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Back in Black (in person)

 I'm very happy to announce that as of tomorrow, I'll be back to in-person teaching! All of the usual restrictions apply - we'll be keeping social distance, any visitors must wear a mask, and where possible, students/ parents should avoid bringing more than one person to accompany, and I'll be disinfecting everything as before. I've had my first vaccination, but as I understand it, vaccinated people are still consisdered a transmission risk, and so I won't be running any kind of "vaccine passport" scheme, just in case anything could slip through and pose a risk to anyone. As always, if in any doubt, I'm still offering remote teaching as usual - and a lot of my students seem to quite like the convenience of remote teaching, so that won't be changing at all; and I'm picking up a few bits and pieces to make remote drum lessons a little easier moving forward. Better late than never!

Hopefully, once all adults are vaccinated by the end of July, things will cool down a little bit - it's certainly never been a tricker or more interesting time to be a working musician...! That being said, a couple of students have asked me about my prices, and so to confirm, I will not be raising my prices above the current £13/30m rate for the forseeable future. "Forseeable" isn't all that reliable a measurement at the minute, so I can at least confirm that prices will stay the same throughout 2021!

I've got a couple of quick extra qualifications coming up in May - while I had some spare time in lockdown, I thought I'd better brush up on my augmented sixth chords for my grade 8 theory, and dust off the guitar grade 8 I prepped for but didn't get a chance to take during my A-levels... 10 years ago?! What?! Well, at least it'll be one less thing to worry about! I'm still cracking on with the drum LTCL, which I'll hopefully be sitting circa 2022. It's a pretty far cry from Ringo Starr! 

 Naturally, my schedule has been flipped on it's head twice by all of this, so I've got a few new slots open - drop me a message on the contact page if you're interested in lessons or performance, and we can get something going once everything opens back up properly!

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Pondering Sobriety


The following was a post I made on Facebook to "celebrate" one year of sobriety. It is a hollow celebration, for sure, but this statement won't matter at all to anybody except for any person that could need to see it.

It is no secret that music and substance abuse go hand-in-hand; drug use and alcoholism is glorified in our general perception of musicians, and this archetype filters down through every level of player. The conflation of work with hobby makes for ambiguous modalities where you spend a lot of time “at work” in pubs, clubs, or rehearsal rooms, outflanked by people who are able to drink or use drugs.

It is also well-understood that mental illness is over-represented in creative industries, which offer a different path for people who struggle with a “normal” job. “They’re amazing, but you couldn’t imagine them working in a bank,” is a statement I’ve heard levied at a significant number of the most talented people I’ve worked with – and it certainly matches my experience prior to committing to music work full-time.

The conflation of those two negative elements is equally well-codified within our perception of musicians: “the 27 club,” genre-defining musicians who were killed by substance abuse far too soon, and then celebrated for doing so, musicians crushed underfoot by the pressures of their vulnerability, choosing to take their own life, and so on. These are not mutually exclusive, and one element certainly portends to the others - and this horrid list is hardly even exhaustive.

There are people for whom the above will never be an issue, and then there are people for whom the above will only ever be an issue. It is easy to be in the latter group, hoping to assume the strength of the former – but it is easier to reject the game outright. I’m not particularly happy to celebrate one year of sobriety today, but I would rather publicly stand for that in the hopes that some other person at some time would maybe see it and perhaps be empowered to choose life, than, in my silence, allow this already disparate group of survivors, to which I belong, live in that pressured solitude, which crushes underfoot so quickly and easily.

Philip K. Dick ends “A Scanner Darkly” with a sombre eulogy for “some people who were punished entirely too much for what they did.” The dead should, if possible, be used to serve the purposes of the living, and so for me (and for nobody else, as it is my personal choice relating only to myself, with no judgement upon the way anyone else lives, or chooses to live), with a heart full of dead friends and heroes, it seems better to steer clear outright. When the consequences for losing are so severe, it is better to win; it is easy to win, and anybody can win.

Friday, 27 November 2020

Christmas Presents and Christmas Wishes!


    It's still November but I'm just about set up for Christmas! I'm currently offering discounted lessons and sessions via my gift cards - if you're buying someone an instrument for Christmas, giving them a 5 week starter course on top can make all the difference. If they're for an already a talented performer or composer struggling with writer's block after this wretched year, then we can get straight to work getting back on track to create some awesome stuff in the new year!

    I've been busy as hell through UK Lockdown 2, with lots of remote teaching and a few sessions to keep things interesting: some furtive Radio Eroticism recordings that I need to sift through, as well as laying down drums for a track by SiNic that should be getting released pretty soon! I've got a possible Christmas single to drum for in a week or so - I'm glad I invested in the extra recording gear as an early present for myself! If you're on the hunt for a session player, let me know via my Contact page and I'll book you in in the next 8 weeks!

    I was a featured vocalist on an electronic track "Gone" from UKS Records that'll hopefully get released pretty soon so I can tag a link in - I've been trying to up my singing chops for a while, so I've gotten involved with quite a few more vocal sessions recently. I'm pretty happy with my progress (I don't need quite as much autotune as on Gone...!), although some of recordings I'd probably best leave in the private collection unless someone really wants to hear my dodgy Sepultura covers. I'll probably get a few covers in at some point once my beloved Ibanez comes back from re-fretting with Nottingham Guitar Tech.

    We all know that this year's been bone-dry for gigs, but it's given me a solid chance to sit in the woodshed and get the practice hours in while watching old silent movies (any recommendations?), so I'm hoping that once rehearsals are able to restart in the new year, I'll have some more flash to show off in my playing. That said, I'm being heartily diverted by the 9-string guitar, and by picking up violin to boot. I'm always up for more challenges, although it'll probably be a while before my violin intonation is worth hearing. At least I got the Christmas decorations up ahead of schedule for remote teaching!

Monday, 12 October 2020

UK COVID Regulations Update

To all my students,

        An update based on the new COVID regulations released today:

                   For remote students: business as usual!    

                    For in-person students: be cautious, but business as usual!

        With Nottinghamshire being placed in "Tier 2", the updated restrictions apply to social gatherings rather than businesses (shops, pubs, restaurants, myself) – and in the higher “Tier 3,” shops and educational facilities would stay open where leisure facilities and hospitality businesses will close. The government is highlighting the importance of maintaining education services through all this, and so I'll be doing everything I can to safely keep things running even if Nottinghamshire or Erewash moved up to “Tier 3” in future.

Although some of my students are Nottinghamshire-based, my studio is located within Erewash, so I'm technically under “Tier 1” restrictions, which is the same 6-person rule as the rest of the country - although I encourage my Nottingham students to take extra care while the virus is at large.

        As such, I will continue business as usual for the foreseeable future – although majority of you are remote students, the minority that wish to come to the studio will still be able to while following the same social distancing guidelines I've had in place the last few weeks. I'm still disinfecting the studio between students, and making sure no in-person student are back-to-back to reduce any risk of transmission. You've all been fantastic at keeping distance, wearing masks, and cancelling lessons if you or somebody close is showing symptoms - although I normally have a late-cancellation fee, I'll be waiving this for any illness-related last-minute cancellations while the virus is looming – better safe than sorry! If I or someone near me starts showing symptoms, I'll immediately cancel all in-person lessons until I've taken a test, and then update from there.

I am confident that there are more curveballs in store, so it's possible that I'll have to post out another update if the guidelines are updated, or we move drastically beyond “Tier 3,” but hopefully this clears the confusion in the mean time. If you have any questions or concerns, you can always let me know.

As always, stay safe, stay indoors, and remember: perfect practice makes perfect!

                        All the best,


Thursday, 20 August 2020

Back to the Grind

    In a bit of an anti-twist, my brief foray into game sound design didn't quite pan out, although I'm very happy for the reason: I'd had a few calls, but by the time I was able to get into interviews, I suddenly had too much teaching and technician work come flooding in - so it looks like I'm back to business as usual, although I'm still composing for Inspiratio Studio and for another project that hasn't yet been announced.


    The studio is looking good! I've still got a few last bits to do before I can finally end my career as a painter/ decorator, but it certainly feels great to have a musical home! I'm in there every day working on something or other, but not much student footfall - although I'm now teaching in-person again (with masks, disinfectant, and social distancing), a lot of my students have embraced remote teaching from the comfort of their home! It's not quite the same, but it certainly has it's advantages! I've got a narrow few slots open at the minute, so send me a message via the Contact page if you're interested to know more!

    I don't have too many upcoming projects to discuss - my production work is functionally on hold while I reground myself with some slightly less bonkers working hours, and that unfortunately means my own music is also on hold - the Radio Eroticism - Earth Drowning record is sounding better and better, but doing a bad job of honoring "Early 2020". There's another Radio Eroticism album on the way too - but I'll talk about that next time (maybe).

    It's important to stay humble - what is easy for me can be a nightmare for my students, and "just do this" is never a good enough answer from a teacher. With that in mind, I've decided to tackle a new instrument to remind myself about those grueling beginner practice hours, with a guitar that my students have described as both "awesome" and "totally evil". It's a 9-stringed Ibanez RG9, and it certainly feels both to play... Though having the range of an entire piano (!) on a guitar is quite something! Not that I have the time to play it at the minute...

    Everyone told me that after the first few years running a business, you get to start having days off and sleeping more than 60 seconds a night again - I can't wait to find out what that's like...! As per usual, if you're interested to more about my work or availability, you're welcome to get in contact with me. In the mean time, back to the grind!