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.