This week, I had the honor of chatting w/ Amber Geislinger on her YouTube live streaming show, Southern Belle Humanism – We chatted about everything from my new album to millennial to extraterrestrials. I don’t often open up about my process but I did here. If you are curious about what goes on in the circus that is my head, Pull up a seat and have a watch…
Oh my God, 2017 sucked for me. After mounting frustrations and bouts with depression, I decided to quit Munook, or at least treat it as a hobby, in Jan of 2017. I then spent the first 9 months of this year going to “culinary home school” in order to open a restaurant instead. Well, as fate would have it, the restaurant didn’t work either. Another story for another day. There is actually a blog post about it here.
Looking at the pile of ash around me that was my life, I had to really ask myself what it is that I want. I decided that life is short, unpredictable, & not to be wasted on pursuing things that only please others. I decided to turn my sights back to Munook.
Never in my life as an artist have I EVER pursued the world of major labels or any type of music opportunities within a corporate structure. It always seemed like “selling out to the man” or something that would bastardize my self expression. I’ve now decided that perhaps it could help. I cannot do all of this by myself anymore. So, I am now adamantly pursuing contacts and help within “the machine” that I’ve been avoiding my entire life. I’m also getting very close to finishing the new album.
It feels like I’m starting all over again. I don’t believe in coincidence. All of this needed to occur in this fashion. I needed the 9 month hiatus. I needed the pain. I needed the humility. I am more focused now and I am very excited about the future. I love you all very much, unless of course you are a blatant asshole. In that case, I’m sorry you are hurt inside but gtfo of my life until you can find some peace.
-Munook for life-
I’ll be honest. I fell off of the horse. After 3 years of promoting & touring, while simultaneously writing & recording the new record, I completely ran out of steam. I decided to put it all down & take a break during the Thanksgiving Holiday of 2016.
That break extended up to about a month ago. I’d like to explain more about why the derailment occurred & what happened during it but let’s just cut the $h!t & say I gave up. I didn’t want to perform anymore & I didn’t want to finish the album.
During this “hermit period”, I made a rash decision that I was going to be done w/ music. In lieu of that, I shifted my focus to opening a restaurant in 2018. How & why this came to be is another story. I’ll cut out a slew of details & say that the restaurant will be named “Secret Recipes” & I plan on opening it in 2018. Though, as w/ most entrepreneurial endeavors, it’s going to take twice as long & cost twice as much as projected. Feel free to click the logo below, it will link you to the Secret Recipes Facebook Page. I won’t stop you from liking it.
With this massive directional change in motion, where does that leave Munook? Well, I decided about a month ago that, no, I wasn’t done w/ Munook. Despite the weight, I do love it & I can’t bring myself to just walk away & leave it as a hobby. Please, hold your applause. So, while my focus has shifted & my time has tightened, I still plan on finishing the 2nd album, performing the material, & creating a 3rd album; a 4th, a 5th… so on until I meet my end.
So after a bit too much rest & a little bit of wind in my sails, I recently put my Munook hat back on & got around to streaming a facebook live performance of “The Dreamer”. Feel free to watch it below. FYI, the first half of the video is intended for fans. It’s an explanation of the song’s structure, the inspiration behind the lyrics, & the instrumentation of the live set up. The 2nd half of the video is the performance. If you’d like to avoid the rambling, skip to the 8 min mark.
Finally, while the new album is more than half way finished, it’ll be a minute before it’s done. In the meantime, here are a few snippets of new music in the works that have been posted to my Instagram. It’s not much, but it’s something. Onward.
Day 24 of 40 day "Be More Social" experiment. #studio day – breaking down the construction of this particular #new #song – Instagram only allows 1 min videos; for the best. I was cut off, though. #vocals, #strings, #percussion, #acoustic & #electric #guitar make up the rest of the song's recipe & were absent from the #music – As always, my music contains #nosamples 😁 🤔🤖 🖖🏻🌺🌔🌩🎼🎻🎸🎹🎨⛩
I try make a concerted effort to avoid the tide of popular opinion. It’s not so much “going against the flow” as it is just finding another flow. That beings said, I cannot help but be sucked into this political rip tide the USA has going right now.
In light of that, I have been reading and meditating on a book by Thich Nhat Hanh recently and as synchronicity would have it, came across his thoughts on labels. I would like to quote him here and stop my own train of thought. It’s such a simple concept that would bring about so much peace. However, it’s sad to think that there are countless people who would simply toss this aside as nonsense. Please read carefully and consider the application. His thoughts are as follows:
“We are separated by labels, by words like “Israeli,” “Palestinian,” “Buddhist,” “Jew,” and “Muslim”. When we hear one of these words, it evokes an image and we immediately feel alienated from the other group or person. We’ve set up many habitual ways of thinking that separate us from each other, and we make each other suffer. So it’s important to discover the human being in the other person, and to help the other person discover the human being in us. As human beings we’re exactly the same but the many layers of labels prevent other people from seeing you as a human being. Thinking of yourself as or calling yourself a “Buddhist” can be a disadvantage, because if you wear the title “Buddhist,” that may be an obstacle which prevents others from discovering the human being in you. The same is true whether you are Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. This can be an important part of your identity, but it is not the whole of who you are. People are caught in these notions and images, and they cannot recognize each other as human beings. The practice of peeling away all the labels so that the human being can be revealed is truly a practice for peace. Because people are very attached to these names and labels, it is important that we use gentle language and loving speech as we talk with people about maters of identity and injustice.
Injustice is suffered by both sides in any personal dispute. It’s crucial we understand that. Once understanding and compassion are born in our heart, the poisons of anger, violence, hatred, and despair will be transformed. The path is quite clear. The only solution is to get the poisons out and to get the insight and the compassion in! Then we will discover each other as human beings, not allowing ourselves to be deceived by the outer layers, by names like “Buddhism,” “Islam,” “Judaism,” “pro-American,” “pro-Arab”, and so on. This is a process of liberation – liberation from our ideas, our ignorance, our tendency to discriminate. The Earth is so beautiful and there is room for all of us, yet we kill each other. But when we can see each other as human beings with their own suffering, we won’t have the courage to shoot each other. We’ll work together for the chance to live peacefully together.” – Thich Nhat Han
To quote Lao Tzu, “Beautiful words are not truthful & truthful words are not beautiful.” I hate to make another post like this but I caught wind of some very unfortunate news recently. I suppose I’ll preface the information by saying that Munook represents more than just me. Anytime someone helps or involves themselves in the forward movement of this project, they become a part of Munook. Unfortunately, the more people that integrate themselves into it, the harder it is for me to remember everybody. However, early on, when it was really hard for me to get people to consider my music, I DISTINCTLY recall who helped. The initial wave of people who reached out did so because they wanted to see it grow; their impact on me was immeasurable. One place in particular where that happened was the Florence/Muscle Shoals Area, & integral to that growth was Jason Flynn.
He was a professor at UNA & led kids on the path of film making. After being pointed in his direction by the Alabama Film Office, I sent an email asking for his help in creating visuals for my album. He responded w/ a phone call almost immediately. He was happy to talk to me, excited about the music, & eager to help. I was floored by how receptive he was. He went on to turn my album into a part of his curriculum for that semester by having his students create visual representations for each song. He kept me closely involved in the process & treated me with respect & honor. I’m still humbled. It’s so rare to find that in the creative industry, unfortunately. The videos can be seen here.
Jason personally took on the song “Breaching”, as it intrigued him the most & was the one video I actually had a “direction” for. It’s a song that deals with some personal experiences & I always hesitate to divulge details in fear of being ostracized. Surprisingly, he kindly listened to me, considered my words, & researched everything I sent him. I’m still baffled. He metaphorically went with me to Zeta Reticuli to try his best to understand the situation & song. The final product was viewed & approved by the John E. Mack Institute & published on their Facebook page. Within the realm of that subject matter, that was a big deal to me! The video is available for viewing below.
After the class finished the project, he put together a live showing of the films for his class & the campus & requested his students attend one of my concerts. I received press & connections immediately afterwards & still have fans in the area to this day. All of that from a guy who just wanted to help. To have that kind of support right off the bat from a stranger is tremendous! He became a part of Munook.
Tragically, he died on October 18th. He took his own life. I don’t know the details, but apparently he struggled with grief & depression. Jarring to say the least. Jason’s spirit will live on in my mind as a part of Munook. Through his kindness & supportive efforts, he gave me the confidence to push forward in the face of opposition, which is priceless in the creative world. If you are grieving, nothing I can say will help that. If you are contemplating suicide, know this; there are people who love & need you. A good friend of mine lost his mother to suicide. He once told me, “Don’t joke about it & don’t ever do it. It’s selfish & effects more people than just you.” I realize that these are all dismal topics but again, as Lao Tzu said, “Beautiful words are not truthful & truthful words are not beautiful.” Hang in there, friends. Live to see the silver lining. We all ride the waves of happy & sad, you’re not alone. Stay strong. To the rest of us successfully navigating these waves, give a listening ear & be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy load. R.I.P., Mr. Flyyn
This show has been a long time coming – sparing a lot of details, it’s organization has required logistical ninjutsu. HOWEVER, we finally have a heading & are underway!
The event will be held at The Music Room in Atlanta, Georgia. A venue which may very well have the coolest front door ever…
Joining Munook for the evening is an eclectic blend of talented artists who are ready and willing to blow your mind. They are, as follows: Nadia Vaeh, Deion Reverie, Emmy Law, & Joshua Garmon – it’s looking to be a great time!
BUT WAIT!!! There is a stipulation… The Music Room utilizes an app called Rabbl to facilitate ticket sales. Rabbl functions like kickstarter, but instead of raising funds, you’re securing ticket presales. This ensures that the venue doesn’t loose money & the artist has a crowd. The Music Room is requiring that we sell 30 tickets BEFORE they will secure the event.
So let’s not mince words, go visit this link -> https://www.rabbl.com/events/1002201 and secure your ticket!! $10 a pop; that’s $2 per artist. All you have to do is log in w/ facebook (don’t worry, they won’t post to your facebook page or spy on you while you’re in the shower), request your tickets, and purchase. Literally takes less than 5 minutes. Also, ahem, you don’t even have to go to the show. You could just show your love by “pledging” $10 to the event; but we’d rather you go!
Here is a sampler of all the artists so that you’re not flying blind – See you there!!
I FINALLY wrapped up the writing for all 11 songs on the new album! While there is still a bit of editing, mixing, and instruments to be recorded and re-recorded; some lyrics to go back over here and there, the process of pulling the music from the aether into a tangible form is done, & that’s the hardest part.
I’m about 90% sure the new album will be available on vinyl & digital download/streaming exclusively. I MIGHT make about 100 copies on CD, but that format is quickly going by the wayside. There will be a lot less freebies this time around too (soundcloud, youtube, etc). As frustrating as it is that kids are consuming music one song at time via youtube, spotify, etc, that seems to be the future. Adapt or get run over. Despite the changing climate of consumption, I am still creating the album with the intention of being listened to properly; from start to finish, accompanied with some form of intoxicant (I do not condone pills, needles, snorting, mad scientist “lab” creations, or irresponsible excess, by the way) in front of a solid stereo (headphones optional; car stereos while aimlessly driving around counts too), whilst taking in the artwork and vibe. Kids these days…
Without giving away too much, the album is definitely darker than the first, and a bit more aggravated. Not to say it’s metal, just leaning more towards the yin than yang. The first album had a lot of really soothing instruments and was sonically silky. This one explores distortion, more minor keys, darker subject matter, etc. Though, it has it’s tender, beautiful moments as well. Well balanced overall? I’ve said too much. I’m really excited about it.
In the meantime, I’ll be performing in Nashville on Dec. 28th with Cosmic Coast and Owen Ni at the Springwater Supper Club While I normally will perform with just about any genre, these two acts actually fit into the “livetronica” vibe I currently have going. I’ve checked out their music, as you should, and this will actually be a congruent show that any fan of what I do will enjoy. For show info, head over to the concert calendar
Stay tuned; until next time.
This is coming, oh, 2 weeks late, but I still felt the need. Here’s a somewhat brief synopsis of the recent July Live dates.
July 17th – Savannah, GA – The Sentient Bean:
Sparing a lot of details, this gig was an experiment in how Munook would fair in a coffee shop. The result, not so well. I think the In & of It live performance works best on an actual stage, with a proper PA, & a sound engineer. Also, I need the volume of the music to be encompassing enough for me to be able to sink my “vocal chops” into; which was not the case there. They wanted a “conversational” volume level which was far beneath what I had been rehearsing with and quite frankly, far beneath the volume of the squeaking wood on the stage. No bueno. I had to deliver every vocal line in a near whisper tone. It didn’t work well. The staff was friendly, the venue itself was really neat, and there was a decent little audience but it just wasn’t the right fit for a full-frontal on Munook gig. Moving on.
July 21st – Florence, AL – The End Theatre:
This show was incredible. A huge thanks to J. Scott Long for asking me to be a part of it. The show was a part of the W.C. Handy Music Festival, a week long music extravaganza in Muscle Shoals, AL with an offshoot being held within The End Theatre. Munook performed on a night exclusively dedicated to Metal bands; and I don’t just mean metal, I mean Deathcore Metal. I was a bit apprehensive initially but after all was said and done, I was so well received that it blew my mind. Honestly some of the nicest, most supportive musicians I’ve ever performed with. I can’t remember all of the bands and people I met that night, but I’ll try to touch on it in another blog update. Just a fantastic night.
July 24th – Nashville, TN – Rocketown:
I think the best part about this show was the ability to share another bill with Strange Waves. They’re a great band out of Muscle Shoals and their involvement with the night was totally by chance. Then again, I don’t believe in chance. It was meant to be. Their music sounds like a progrock version of Alabama Shakes. Make a point to check them out. As far as the rest of the bands for the night, I was accompanied by Norwish, a very young indie rock band and Tomås Gorrio a solo singer-songwriter, both from Nashville. The venue was a skate park/”YMCA-esque”youth center. The crowd was very young, so my set was short and PG. I didn’t mind. It was a fun night overall and I made a handful of worthwhile contacts.
July 28th – Charlotte, NC – Crown Station:
You would think that if I were experimenting with the viability of a Munook show in a coffee house, I would have only booked one. I booked two and Crown Station was the 2nd. Actually, Crown Station did allow me to raise the volume a little but again, it’s not a music venue and that brings it’s own set of challenges. Aside from all that, I had the pleasure of meeting and performing with Deion Reverie. A fantastic, young singer-songwriter/producer from Charlotte. Do yourself a favor and check out his music. I really hope to perform with him again in a proper venue! Unbeknownst to me, there were two other bands that were scheduled to perform that night as well; Pathos, Pathos & Rothschild. Definitely check them out! Some great connections were made that night.
July 29th – Atlanta, Ga – Smith’s Olde Bar:
Positive news first. I LOVE this venue. While their “loading dock” had a little something to be desired, their stage was great. Apparently, David Bowie has played there once upon a time & Bob Marely’s old band, The Wailers, had played there just a few night before. Sorry for the name dropping. Moving on. A pro sound engineer, proper monitors, proper PA, pro lighting; sorry for being naive and giddy but it really was a fantastic stage and venue. Now for the less exciting news. The other two bands I shared the stage with, Loyd Rieves & Tall Bear were less than supporting to say the least. They brought a very large audience but did nothing to promote Munook to their fans. It was so funny to see DEATHECORE metal bands sporting Munook T-shirts onstage in front of 100 people just a few nights before and yet have two other musicians do absolutely ZILCH to help promote me to a new city just days later. Independent music is a brotherhood, gotta’ look out for each other. Granted a few members of Tall Bear watched my set but the front man, well, let me just leave it at this…he put cologne on before he went on stage. Literally. Ah, well. I still got paid the same. 😉 Needless to say, I won’t be performing with them again. I will however be performing at Smith’s Olde Bar again.
July 30th – Greenville, SC – IPA Greenville:
First off, let me say that the owners of this venue gladly & heavily support independent, left of the middle music! Massive props to them. I was greeted with flyers & my name in lights. You really can’t ask for more. They had a nice, sizable stage fully equipped with proper monitors, PA, & a sound engineer. They found and booked a local act for me. I really was blown away by how well they took care of me. I had the honor of sharing a stage with Issac Pancake – an artist who really fit perfectly with me. Just a great experience all around. I highly recommend any touring indie band make a stop at IPA Greenville. Though, you must do your own promotion. The built in crowds vary.
July 31st – Asheville, NC – The One Stop:
This was a great night. Asheville is nothing short of magical. If you are looking for an interesting place to visit on vacation, go to Asheville. Not only is the city, scenery, and people extraordinary; so is the music scene. I don’t know what UFO put together that little settlement but job well done. It was a relatively large crowd that was very receptive. The two other musicians I performed with, Dep & Divine Love Mission were so kind and down to Earth. Go check out their music and support them! Also, I was able to meet up with Dirk South! An old band mate who performed bass guitar on The T.S.K. – he was also kind enough to let me crash at his house that night and save $ on a hotel bill. Just a fantastic night overall and wonderful way to end the tour. I’ll definitely make my way back to Asheville; gladly.