Monday, September 14, 2009

Best. Present. Ever.

About 2 years ago, my parents moved out of their house in NDG, which was my childhood home, to move into a condo located downtown. Part of this move included throwing out lots of "old junk" deemed no longer necessary. In fact, the cleaning process started years and years ago, even before they decided to get a condo. Those who know my parents know that they have a dark and quirky sense of practicality and uber-foreplanning- some say fatalistic others say realistic. My dad explained the cleanup: "We want to throw out all this junk now so that, after we die, you don't have to go through all of this".

Unfortunately, one of the items deemed "junk" was a Casio VL-1 VL-Tone, which was my first ever musical instrument, and whose demo song was the first piece of music I ever learnt how to play.

Not exactly the hippest thing ever, but back then I couldn't get enough. I mean, christ, I eventually got so good at playing the theme that I would play the melody while switching the rhythms and sounds around at the right spots.

If you've never heard of the VL-Tone, but hear something in it that sounds familiar, it may be because you've heard songs that have used it. The most famous is probably German band Trio's song "Da Da Da".

Anyway, so, like I said, my dad threw it away and I was shocked and horrified- partly nostalgia but also partly because I've had the idea in the last few years to start a project that would integrate retro electronic sounds, and the VL-1 was going to be absolutely integral to it.

Fast-forward to tonight, when I was over at my parents place for dinner. Due to age and my dad's illness, I've been helping out with various chores and repairs that would have previously been trivial, and so, after dinner, I headed downstairs to pick up the mail. There was a package waiting for us.

Suddenly I realized why my dad had been asking me questions about eBay for the last couple of weeks without the slightest idea it was for this. Best present ever.

Also, thankfully I did manage to stave the hand of junk-disposal before they got to my old Transformers toy collection.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Before Music Dies

I'd heard about this documentary about the current state of the popular music industry, that is to say, marketing-driven music, as opposed to music and musician-driven music, a while ago, but never got around to watching it. My loss. Contains some great insights although it comes off as a bit of a commercial spot for ATO Records at the end of it.

You can watch the entire movie here:

Features interviews with record industry execs, random music fans, and lots of famous and not-so-famous musicians such as Erykah Badu, Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews, Branford Marsalis, and ?uestlove. Also contains an amusing insta-popstar creation using the dude who wrote Jewel's big hit, a 17-yr-old model, and of course the wonders of autotune.

This also contains the famous quote from Branford Marsalis about the state of students today, that has been floating around the webtersphere.

I've seen Branford speaking out on various subjects a bit more recently, and he seems to have a similar combination fire, controversy, and intelligence that Wynton has, but I tend to agree with his opinions more. Kinda like my feeling on their music too, haha.

Here's a clip of him talking about race and the objectification of women:

One of the more bizarre/hypocritical parts of the documentary, though, is hearing Erykah Badu talk all about how the music-industry today is all about image over content, but she is doing this while wearing her very notable but very fake afro wig. Hrm.

Found via Zakari's post on Peter Hum's Facebook wall.

(updated on 2010/12/01 with link to video of Erykah Badu's comments, and updated link to movie)