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Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Hey folks,
It’s been a long time coming. This book was written with a frugal, yet adventurous heart. I came to New York City with an air-mattress and a dream, and even though the air mattress popped, the dream still remains. It took over 3 years to write, gathering as many tips/tricks/lifehacks from all of the artists I know to bring this project to fruition. Without further ado, here’s the link to the original, free PDF version.starving artist small

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imageWhen writing a song, it’s good to dissect it into its various parts: lyrics, musical composition, arrangement, recording and mixing/mastering.
Everyone has a different method of coming up with a finished song, and there really is no right or wrong way to go about it, but I will share my tried and true way of writing and recording a song like this one.
Lets dive in.

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Moonshine Happy Hour Club

Ghost, Goblins and Ghouls beware! Cohosts Kevin Prockup and Ethan Runco talk about ghosts, ghouls, goblins, our personal hopes and fears, and a whole lot more.

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This is the directory. It’s huge, and it took me a long time to put together. If you ever need to find any place around New York City that is cool, you’ll probably be able to find it here. I’m currently doing a few things, as always, including but not limited to: brewing a batch of strawberry Octoberfest, working on some songs to play at Path Cafe’s Thursday Open Mic night, editing a super secret project of which details will be released very soon, finishing up final edits for the 2011 Starving Artist’s Guide Addendum, and some other stuff too. I’m also going to update the LINKS section of this site this week. Stay tuned!

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Yeehaw!
Last month saw the release of This Will Swallow You Whole, a book I wrote on philosophy, time and the evolution of consciousness. If you haven’t read it yet, take some time to read it! It only takes about a half hour from cover to cover, and the link above will bring you to a beautiful PDF version of the book. If you’re too lazy for that, I did an audio book version available here, read by yours truly.

This month ushers in a collection of songs that I’ve been working on for two years, collectively called Holograms. I recorded it over the course of two days the whole album is available for free download here*.

Sales of SAG have been increasing, and I’m very excited about the work that I’ve been putting in on the 2011 Addendum. Since it looks like I’ve been working on a one release a month schedule, perhaps it will be available in March? I keep pushing it back, but eventually it will be done! I’ve also decided to expand and create Sublime Minds Press, a new outlet to publish my work, as well as other authors as well. In the coming weeks, I’ll be unveiling a new website and will probably begin posting from there instead of here. This website will be updated to pertain only to SAG activity, while the Sublime Minds Press website will be all-encompassing.

In SAG news, I got to check out a free showing of the new documentary “Home” at Village East Cinemas. If you’re in the NYC area, definitely order up some tickets here.

*If you’re wondering why I’m releasing it for free, here’s why: I want you to actually listen to it! I have a stable job, and I don’t need to charge people for something that essentially was free to make. I didn’t have to press any cds for this album, so I didn’t pay for that upfront cost. What I do want from you is this: If you like the album, or books or whatever, tell other people about it! I want to spread my ideas, and I’m counting on you to help me. You can also buy physical copies of the books in the goods section of this blog.
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I hope everyone is having a wonderful winter, despite the near weekly blizzards! Stay warm and safe, and enjoy the Super Bowl this weekend.

Johnny

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Hey folks,
The dudes over at cdbaby.com just opened up a forum to find out how songwriters do their diddy. They’re putting together a little Ebook to help out songwriters and here’s what I put as my answers. If you want to put in your two cents, go on over to cdbaby.com

1.What does your songwriting process look like? What are a few of the more common ways in which you compose a song?

Often for me, there’s an initial idea which goes into songwriting, which can come on the subway or walking in the park—usually a phrase or catchy limerick. All it needs is cadence. Then, I try to figure out the two parts of the song—the lyrics and what i’m trying to get across with the song, and the music to accompany the lyrics. The better the two mesh together, the better the song. If you can play the song without singing the lyrics and it still sounds like it’s saying what you meant to say, then the song is well written.
This process can work itself out within a matter of hours or even months or years. Certain songs take longer to ferment, which might be considered a form of “writer’s block” to some people, but I see it as just a part of the writing process. Just like brewing beer, some songs take longer to write than other songs.
Sitting down with other musicians can also help the songwriting process.
2.Think of your favorite songs. What do they do to or for you? What is it about the song (technically, emotionally, thematically) that moves you?
The best songs are songs that you wish you wrote in the first place. They make you move from the hips in rhythm with the music, try to attempt singing it even while knowing you aren’t the true singer. A song can truly move you when it physically moves you. It has this “swing” to it that from the first listen to the thousandth listen, achieves the same goal—to get you up and dancin’.
3.What are your common frustrations with songwriting? What are the ways in which you get stuck?
Songwriting is a tricky beast to get a handle on. In order to progress as a songwriter, you must constantly challenge your emotions, technical ability and have moments of doubt where you want to give up the craft. It’s moments like this that songwriting becomes a chore. This is when you pick up a paintbrush until further notice.
4.4. How do you overcome the frustration? how do you get un-stuck?
The best way to get over the frustration is to stop writing songs until you want to again. No one is putting a gun to your head saying “you need to write songs” instead of using your creativity in other forms. Sometimes you feel like writing a song because you haven’t written one in a while. This is a bad idea. The lyrics will be “yesterday was gray, I had a bad day” and it will suck. Instead, wait for inspiration to strike, or attempt writing a song on a different instrument or with a group of songwriters that can help give you feedback and inspire your writing in a different way.
5. Do you envision an audience or outside listener when you write? If so, how would you describe that audience? What effect does this have on the writing process?
It’s best to write for yourself. Sometimes I write songs for my family, knowing that they will probably be the first to hear it and the most receptive to it.

6.Songwriters are known for loving most of their “babies” equally. This is why artistic coaches have the mantra “Kill Your Babies!” How can you tell when one of your own song is really good? How can you tell when one is bad or misbehaving?

By favoring certain songs or chord progressions or even styles of music, you can end up boxing yourself in and snuffing out the flame of creativity. It’s important to be proud of your songs from a “I was there and I did that” aspect, and give them their due as far as playing them if you get the chance in front of people to get a reaction, but it’s also equally important to push your own limits creatively as well as musically. You can usually tell if a song is “misbehaving” if you don’t like the way it sounds. This can be an easy fix, or you can just drop it from your setlist if it doesn’t feel relevant to you anymore. Case in point: Radiohead stopped playing “Creep” live because it boxed them into a particular “grunge” scene. They wanted to expand their sound, so they stopped playing it for people. A great song, but irrelevant to the band’s performance after 1994.
7.What do you get out of being a songwriter? Do you imagine you’ll write songs forever?
What does a blade of grass get out of having the sun around? I can’t image not having an outlet like songwriting to express myself. Songwriting is a process of filtration, allowing me to take in the world and express myself so that other people can listen and hopefully be inspired as well. Songwriting forever? Forever is a long, long time. I suppose if I have the chance and feel inspired, forever seems like a long enough time to be a songwriter.
8.What roles do “inspiration” and “perspiration” play in your writing process?
Inspiration is the key to writing a song, perspiration is the doorknob that you turn.
9.Imagine the greatest song you’ve haven’t written yet. Describe it.
I like the idea of multiple harmonies going on, with parts for banjo, mandolin, guitar and organ. The lyrics are based in transcendentalism, like a brisk walk in the woods in late November as the last leaves fall in New England.

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Summer Update

Greetings from Brooklyn! The site has been slightly quiet these days, and for good reason. I’m currently working on a new album which should see the light of day this fall. I’m also developing another addition to the Starving Artist’s Guide Series, all while still trying to promote and market the first book which was published last October. There will indeed be a podcast put up very shortly for those of you who want to hear what I’ve been up to. It’s been a very intense summer thus far, with some great shows in NYC, such as the Arcade Fire show I attended this last Thursday. I’ve been spending most of my time outdoors, riding my bike and enjoying the weather.
Midway through the summer my landlord pulled my air conditioner right out of the wall in my room because it was leaking and creating a problem for the downstairs tenant. As such, I’ve been totally A/C free since the middle of July. Honestly, it’s cut down significantly on my electricity bill, caused me to take more showers and also made me enjoy my porch a lot more than I ever have before. I also have been tending an intense green thumb habit, which is pretty zen when it comes down to it. I harvested a good deal of carrots and tomatoes already, and just planted a batch of green beans, which I hope will produce some delicious edibles this fall. In other news, I bought a moped off of craigslist.com for $250! It’s a 2005 Yamaha 50cc. It’s been in the shop for a little while, but hopefully it’s gonna be great for fall rides.
Here’s a link to a show I did at Arlene’s Grocery this Spring. It’s got some songs that will be on the upcoming album.

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