For the algorithm

Chronocentrism of the synchronous mind
Runs through a place full of fennels
Rotational discrepancies of the oblate spheroid
To the Tegmark duplicates of Morena Blvd.
Create empathogens for alexithymia
The Matryoshka doll of utility monsters
Experiencing horripilation in traffic psychology
Thus reflects hyperbolic paraboloidal pixels

Additional Accompaniment to Follow

My newest work is an old video that has appeared on YouTube, but this is not. Also more work in progress and new stuff. I have worked with new and old music for the album. I hope to do more in the future. I’ll also be making videos of all the songs that appear on the album, and some other content as well. So expect more. There is a little bit more I’d like to do, I’ll also make it out to the world, and share it, too. I hope that you’ll enjoy this project, and that it will bring you something to your own that you’d like to hear. I’m doing my best to make it a worthwhile experience. Thank you for your support, and good night.

-Bobby Eubanks, in the middle of recording “A Summer Indoors” (a collaboration with my brother, Jason Eubanks, and a friend of his, Dave McFarland, as a tribute to my father and brother in law who both passed away a while back)

In the middle of recording a tribute album to the late Bob Eubanks and his brother Jason (the songwriter) in a band called “A Summer Indoors”:

JT: We’ve had to change recording schedules. A lot. And a lot of good songs have gone missing. But there are some that have to come to fruition, and some that are to be recorded, and it’s about time. A few weeks ago my brother in law, Matt McClung, and I were in Florida to record a number of songs at the home of a friend of mine. It’s very nice home. We hung out there for a few days and just kept at it. Matt was a pretty nice guy, and he knows all the members of “A Summer Indoors”. He’s even got all the videos of all the albums they’ve done. So we came to him, and he had this nice idea: If we did something for him, he would share it with the whole world. So we sent over some of our ideas and he sent them over. And then we shared them with all the people we knew. And then we met up with another producer, who is a friend of ours, and we did an album of all our ideas. And then we decided to do a tour of the states with my brother in law and that was where we met another friend who is working for Toto. And we just kept at it. We were pretty lucky. I do miss that music. This year is a good year for me. It’s a good year for us. I’m glad we got that out of our system and we can get back to what we do best.

Pitchfork: I was a little surprised to see that your new album was released in Canada, because it’s a release date from October 23, 2012.

JT: My brother in law’s friend was a big promoter for us, so he did it for us. The label, because I’m just not a Canadian, when we were doing the dates in Vancouver, they did it at the last minute. They were all “hey, we need another month to put it out here, so, uh.” So we got to take care of it in our own time. It’s the first time I’ve ever been on tour in Canada. I didn’t have any friends in Vancouver that I knew, I didn’t have any friends at the record label. We just had people to go and do it with. And I’m getting over the shock of it.

Pitchfork: You mentioned that your friends were going to pick up the tab for tickets, so where did you do all of the recording?

JT: I booked a couple of studios. We did the record at RCA with Mark Foster, and at the Record Plant in Santa Cruz with Justin Meldal-Johnsen. We did a lot of everything there. And it was a great recording session, but I had no idea what the other guys were doing. I’d already done three albums, so I didn’t know that I had so much music that I could get out on the record. We did it on three days. We got to use all of the studios, so it was just a great experience, I’m just sad it didn’t work out. It’s so sad, cause I got to make my first album with a bunch of my best friends and they’re all gonna go to their graves disappointed, cause they knew I wanted to make a record and I tried so hard to do that, and I didn’t get to make it.

I hope it’ll come out, I just really want it to come out, cause it was my first album in five years, I hope it comes out on a good label. I’m getting ready to go into the studio to try and get it out.

Pitchfork: You know, the internet has probably spoiled me, because I had to go on this thing called “DeeJay” for a while, that was a thing where you could stream music that you were listening to on your phone, or whatever. They’re taking it so much more seriously now.

JT: Exactly.

Pitchfork: And it’s more of a part of the everyday.

JT: Yeah, and it’s so much less stressful, too. It’s the biggest thing going.

Pitchfork: You get to see the fans from across the country. It’s really a way for people to interact. What’s your favorite thing about it?

JT: Oh, my favorite thing about it is all the fans. It’s such a cool thing. People are so weird, it’s crazy.

Pitchfork: One of the things that people ask you most is if you go out and tour much, if you do it like a rapper, but at the same time there’s more of a connection to the crowd that you kind of just do it with because you’re an electronic artist, what is the connection there?

JT: I guess, I don’t know. I kind of feel the way that it’s like, I’m a rapper, I don’t know, it’s what I’m capable of, but I’m also a musician, so I love to show off my music to the crowd, it’s kind of always been in my blood.

Pitchfork: It’s a lot of people that want to see you show off, to be in the same room with you. They get excited, they want to be there with you, and you really take that chance.

JT: Yeah, I do. I’m always the weird one. I’m not like, “Oh I’m going to let them in.” I know I’m a bad person. I know I’m weird, but I just can’t help it. So I’m kind of doing it for them, I guess.

Pitchfork: I have people I’m friends with that say that, “Oh we’re going to be hanging out with you, we’re going to see you, you’re going to play.” And then you’re like “Fuck you, no.” What’s your mentality like? Do you understand what the people want?

JT: Oh I know, I do understand what the people want. If they’re going to want something, they’re going to want it. People want them to see them live. That’s the main thing, and when I feel like I’m going to do something like show someone who’s in the room.

Pitchfork: Well, the other person that I hang out with that does this is one of your best friends, and I don’t think I would have been a fan even if it wasn’t for what they did. So you have the mindset, and then you have this other person that you know is going to give you the same opportunity, but at the same time, it’s for them. So they give you the opportunity. But you still feel it, you still feel what’s going to happen.

JT: Oh yeah, that’s what you got to do, and that’s what I need to do, because I’m like you. I’m an artist and I’m going to do something.

Pitchfork: That’s what I get, I don’t get it like this other person that can take me places. But you have to hang out with the people who are going to take you there. You have to have that mentality.

JT: You just gotta know what’s happening.

Field Recordings: What I’ve Learned

Have you recently started capturing field recordings? Do you want to work them into your music or use them as sound effects for your videos? Then you’ve come to the right place. Today I’ll be talking about my years of experience with field recordings (mostly trial and error) and some mistakes I’ve made so you can learn from them.

I started taking field recordings on a budget smartphone in 2016. That was my main method for at least a year and a half. The quality was low, which the same could be said about the music I was recording at the time. I would take the sounds of trains, construction, the wind, birds, machinery, and more. When I was home, I would sometimes run a microphone outdoors connected to my audio interface and computer.

I obtained a real field recorder in 2018: the standard Zoom H4N. It upped my sound quality, but there were some caveats. Some of my recordings clipped due to wind noise. Reading a guide to field recordings beforehand would have led me to what’s called a deadcat that cuts down that noise. I bought that with an accessory pack just a few months ago.

Another mistake I made was capturing environmental sounds for too long. I’ve often left my field recorder alone outside, gone in the house, and came back to stop it 30 minutes to an hour later. With how often I’ve done this, I will never hear a significant portion of my field recordings in full. I’d recommend keeping these kinds of field recordings at around 5-10 minutes if they’ll be worked into music or just used as effects. There are exceptions where you would want to keep rolling like a full album of field recordings. I’ve done one of these, although with microphones, my audio interface and computer instead of the H4N.

Some field recordings I thought would be great turned out to be unusable once I listened to them on my computer. The worst were from a broken old mini-tape voice recorder I bought for a dollar then fixed. Bad quality from the H4N could be solved by monitoring with good headphones in the field. I do have studio headphones that I could bring with me.

A lot of the time I favor immediacy in capturing field recordings over setting up for the best sound. There are professional sound artists who pay much more attention to their field recordings than I do. I also still whip out my phone to record sounds that I find interesting when I don’t have my field recorder with me.

I love my H4N as a tool, but it does eat up double A batteries quickly. The amount that I went through at first felt wasteful. So I switched to rechargeable batteries to resolve that.

Environmental sounds aren’t all I use my field recorder for. I’ve also used it to record bands playing live, my piano playing, audiobook narration (that’s with a microphone plugged into it), and my voice for some of my YouTube videos. It’s a versatile gadget. If the recordings in your phone are piling up, and you can afford $100-200 on a dedicated field recorder, I think you’ll be happy with it. You can spend a lot more on the gear.

You can take field recordings just for your own enjoyment, or you can take it more seriously. I’d put myself more in the former camp. One attitude I’ve seen is that people walking and talking past the person taking a field recording ruins it, and I’d disagree. When you’re recording out in the world, you’re recording everything in the world in front of you, not just what you want. Since this is all digital now, you can easily cut around the supposed obstruction if it doesn’t fit. Personally, I like to leave some “mistakes” in. I’m no perfectionist which you can probably tell from some of my videos.

I hope what I’ve shared here is relevant to your interest in field recordings, or that it saves you some of the frustration I’ve had. Taking field recordings can lead to more awareness of your environment, and slow down time in a calming way. It rekindled my interest in bird watching from listening to them intently first. Field recordings are a unique hobby that can become bigger than that. What’s unremarkable to most people is meaningful to me, and maybe it is for you too.

 

On DIY

I’m starting to think that most instances of insulting people who made something themselves instead of buying a product is subconsciously being jealous of the ability to make it. Apparently baking bread is for annoying hipsters, despite being done at home for thousands of years. I’d rather be the “hipster” that built his own record shelf, bookshelf, and pedalboard than just a consumer. If you have the time to DIY something, as many of us do during lockdown, I’d recommend giving it a shot. There’s a unique feeling of pride that accompanies creating things you use or even just look at.

On Ambient Music

I’ve noticed there at least two definitions of ambient music people use. The original definition is it’s music you don’t focus on; it’s in the background of something else. It’s like musical wallpaper. The other is music that’s heavy in effects like delay and reverb, which could be focused or foreground. I’ve used the descriptor both ways depending on who I’m talking to. Some guitarists only understand ambient in regards to guitar pedals. For people who don’t know ambient in any way, I say the music sounds sort of like film scores. Some artists who are labelled ambient claim they’re not, because the music is meant to be in the foreground. Many musicians in general don’t like being categorized. Listeners and musicians can see music differently. When you’re making ambient music, it’s usually more for personal fulfillment than what an audience wants. It can be useful to put yourself in the listener’s shoes though. If it’s truly background music, what task or activity is it in the background of? I’ve thought of this in making my albums Piano Music for Studying, Guitar Music for Sleeping, Wind Sounds for Thinking, and Piano Music for Grocery Shopping. The last is most tailored to the experience, which I still want to improve on in the next album of the series.

On Meditation

When I meditate, I often care most about how many minutes or hours I meditated. That’s antithetical to what meditation is supposed to be. I’ve been conditioned to quantify everything. I’ve seen meditation as a way to boost productivity afterwards, instead of being there in the moment. On the other hand, I was using meditation as a form of escapism in late 2018. Meditating 1 to 2 hours every day led to not socializing and not wanting anything material. I’m already introverted and tend to isolate myself, so going further inwards may be detrimental. I’ve heard meditation can be dangerous with my history of mental health issues. When I reduced my time meditating, there was one piece I read that claimed meditation conflicts with American culture. It was meant to be a way for teenage monks to accept a life of poverty. Minimal ties to the external world is at odds with working for a living, consumerism, and chasing status. Those tenets are widely known in the US to become excessive. For those who have lost who they are chasing money, meditation could better balance their their lives than mine. You have to try it yourself to find out if it helps. The podcasters, lifestyle gurus, and mindfulness apps have made blanket statements on its benefits. After my experience, I think the effects of meditation are more complex than how simple the practice is at the surface. As far as I know, the science is inconclusive on how helpful it is. Meditation should never be a replacement for mental health treatment. Exercise or structured writing could result in clearer improvements for many people. Even though I usually have earbuds in, and my eyes are open, I consider my long walks to be sort of a meditative experience. Time to reflect is crucial, as an addition to life experience, not a replacement for it. I now realize what I’ve written here is reflection too.

Long Walks Without a Phone

I’ve made a habit of walking 2-9 miles a few times per week starting from my house. I usually listen to podcasts, which is nice because I can really focus on them, and retain more information. I like to think that when my body’s moving, my brain’s functioning on a slightly higher level too. A more recent thing I do is take photos of plants to identify using the iNaturalist app. My retention of those species isn’t as good yet. What I’ve done a handful of times is intentionally leave my phone at home while I’m out walking. I’ve done this thrice in the past week, which was motivated by listening to an episode of the Team Human podcast with guest Tiffany Shlain about unplugging one day a week.

Each of the routes I walked was about 4 to 5 miles, which I’m guessing is around an hour and half each, compared to previous walks I’ve tracked. I didn’t see the time when I was out at all, which was a welcome reprieve. Most of us are always watching the time in the modern world. Not being easily able to check it freed up space to think about other things. I was hoping the boredom of listening to nothing, and not checking my phone would lead to new ideas of what to create. The video about this is one of them. I also connected two ideas I heard in a podcast and read in an article awhile ago on being grateful and self-improvement. I ended up writing a Facebook and WordPress post about that, which might defeat the purpose of this experience. On the other hand, I definitely won’t abandon all technology and go live in a cave. Computers do enrich my life, and I wouldn’t have my job without one.

More people are realizing that we do need breaks from always looking at a screen and being perpetually online. Cal Newport and Tristan Harris are bringing those ideas to a larger audience. My recent breaks led to talking to more strangers in public, and mostly feeling at peace. I could really look at my surroundings, which was particularly nice perched on top of a large rock in a nearby canyon. It’s the same place where I sometimes completed my homework in community college.

I did bring my field recorder on two of the walks to pick up environmental sounds. On the third walk two days ago, the only things in my pocket were my wallet and chap stick. That time, my thoughts became repetitive and annoying. The song Drug Scars by smrtdeath was stuck in my head. I usually like that song, but it was driving me nuts on the walk.

Walking my dog yesterday, I brought my phone and listened to part of a podcast. Sometimes I’ll still leave my phone at home when I’m out to give myself that break from the internet. Once when I walked down to the bay to read, I put my phone on airplane mode to focus. When I later told that to a friend he was surprised, saying he couldn’t even do that, as a caregiver. I have the luxury of occasionally shutting off contact. In that instance, it was actually the wrong decision. When I put my phone back in service, I saw I had missed calls from my dad with a car breakdown. I felt guilty, but at least my brother responded faster to go help him.

There are pros and cons to going offline out in the world. It was the norm up until very recently. I had worse phones than my peers for a lot of my young life. If I had an emergency while I’m out without a phone, I would need to find someone who can help, or borrow their phone to make a call. There are almost no payphones left. The chances of a problem are slim enough for me to take the risk when I need a break. I’ve turned off my phone for up to two days at home, and I’d like to try going a day without all of my devices. If scrolling social media puts you in a worse head-space, if your eyes feel strained from a whole day staring at a screen, or there’s a book you’ve been meaning to read, it might be worth unplugging for awhile. I certainly value it.

Something To Think About

Still thinking about two ideas I heard in a podcast and read about in an article awhile ago, that I just connected. More people should be grateful for what they have. However, if you were grateful for absolutely everything, you wouldn’t strive for a better life. Yet that would actually be a good thing for a small segment of people in the Western world. There are people who spend a lot of time and money on self-improvement, continuing to optimize when their lives are already great. You don’t really choose when to be happy. I could ponder how this all applies to my own life again and again, even decades from now. Maybe it’s relevant to your life too.

APLs

The trouble of travel
Rabble rousing
In the apple of an
I listened intently
In tents we ensconced
Scot free escape
For no true Scotsman
Scotched up
Scotch tape fix
An Anthology of Dead Ends
In a new tape mix
Botched at this hopscotch
Throwing rocks into applesauce
Lost near the untraceable Loch
You did lock your doors, ¿verdad?
Dad veered into the shoulder
The rumble strip lulled him to sleep
We arrived unscathed
Autopilot kicked in
As it always has
The code is in the digits of pi
The apple pie in the
Sky blue blown waves
Of amber is the color
Of our synergy
Cutting costs
Cutting down wait time
Hello?
Can we pleased be
Seated in the fake leather
Office chair, debonaire
A billionaire on paper
In reality
A peasant
Piloting a robot suit
The soup of the day
Is apple-butterscotch