Imagine – you’re submerged in total darkness. The world around you hides behind a veil of shadows. But for the occasional flash of sunlight, you’re unable to see ten fingers splayed six inches from the tip of your nose. Only sound surrounds you; the voices of your companions, speaking in hushed tones, sharp air whistling through cracked windows, the rhythmic stutter and thrum of tracks six feet below.
Your body is in disbelief, hurtling a hundred miles an hour through cores of mountains, surrounded on all sides by stone, wood and metal too dark to see but close enough to smell. A sensation of floating, the stasis interrupted by an occasional bump in the tracks, rampant rails warped by thousands of travelers over hundreds of trips, spanning decades of slow decay. You’re thousands of miles from home, tightly buckled into a vehicle within a vehicle.
Suddenly a flash of light, white, and shades of green. Your vision breaks free, wide expansion from negative space like the Big Bang. As multi-colored spots fade from your eyes, the world around you opens into more densely clustered trees than you’ve ever seen on Earth, and could count no more reliably than countryside stars on a clear summer night.
It’s mid-day in Switzerland and we’re in a white Sprinter van, suspended on the old train car that safely carried us through the polylithic Swiss Alps, strapped to the car as it charges through depths of the mountains. It’s one of the few ways to access the remote town where the legendary Open Air Gampel music festival is held.
The only place I could compare the view here would be Lake Tahoe, with its crystal waters and dense green foliage. This is like if Lake Tahoe were shot on Red cameras and Photoshopped to look like Pandora from Avatar.
That was definitely the most memorable part of our most recent tour through Europe with The Glitch Mob (August 2014). I know, because when I thought about what I’d actually retained amidst a flurry of flights, sleepless nights, losing my laptop in Scandanavia, and an endless stream of incredible shows and music festivals, that was the first that stood out.
Briefly, the people of Scandanavia (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) are so far the most honest and good-natured people I’ve interacted with. When I boarded my flight transfer onto a plane in Oslo, it wasn’t until we were up in the air that I reached into my backpack to pull out my laptop and work on a song I’d put at least a hundred hours into. As my fingers grasped the empty cavity where my nylon laptop-pouch usually sits, my jaw dropped and my face turned fifty shades of white.
My eyes and thoughts searched to disprove the inevitable, but it slowly sunk in that I’d left it on the previous flight. After two weeks of flying into entirely foreign countries, de-boarding the plane to be taken straight to the venue, setting up for the show, mixing the show, packing everything down and a few short hours of sleep at a hotel before heading to the next plane flight, then rinsing and repeating, somehow I’d left behind the one object that contained hundreds of hours of music and projects I’d invested in over the past two years.
Why didn’t you have it all backed up, you’re probably wondering. I did have some, but not all of it, and as any artist knows, the fear of losing creative work you may not be able to recover or recreate can be crippling.
I immediately asked the airline attendant if I could log onto their Wi-fi and submit a lost item ticket. Within minutes I was scanning the recovered items list, showing numerous iPhones and laptops, but no Macbook Pros. After landing, I called directly and received the same info. After 3 days of scanning the “recovered items” list, becoming more and more certain that it was gone forever, I found one reading simply “black and silver laptop”.
After confirming my username and password, I could finally breath easy. Were the airline attendants not so honest, I wouldn’t be on this laptop writing right now. True, I’d be on a different one, but down hundreds of hours of progress and out about two thousand bucks. Instead, I paid $400 to have it shipped back to my house in San Francisco. I now have a hard drive at home that I can access and transfer files to remotely, my own personal Dropbox. Please, learn from my mistakes.
Anyway! A new Glitch Mob EP has just been released (link)! Highly recommend checking it out, the new songs are everything fans hoped for.
A few choice shots from last year –
Our tour bus picks us up directly from Heathrow Airport in London, to take us to Reading and Leeds music festival
Reading and Leeds in the UK
Monlithic church in Germany
Street art in Russia
Moscow movie posters. Reading any dinner menu here was like looking at Hieroglyphics (not the hip-hop group)
dB limits everywhere in Europe restrict how loud sound levels can be. If you mix above the designated level for a set period of time, the venue or festival will be automatically fined, billed back to the band. As a result, I spend more time looking at this screen than the stage, riding right at 100dB, the maximum level allowed.
Stockholm Sushi with our Ableton guru Chris from Nerdmatics
Skate park in Russia – don’t miss your trick or your deck’s going for a swim
Varying states of decay
Sunset in Stockholm
Skrillex and Zedd jump around backstage at Dans Dakar
Turn up on that special edition Glitch Mob Heineken
Secret garden at the hotel in Sweden – perfect for writing some mid-day tunes
Cobblestone, everywhere in Sweden – lots of fun to push gear across!
Part of the reason I started this blog was to remember. Without it, my only reminders are a series of cluttered photos, untagged by geography, comment or context.
That’s partially why I’m picking up where I left off on this blog. When it came time to re-register the domain name, I was hesitant. I hadn’t updated in nearly a year. It’s time consuming. I wasn’t seeing immediate return and will not clutter my blog with ads. I was and am so busy writing music that it’s challenging to sit down and gather my thoughts on something that doesn’t feel directly related to furthering my career as a music producer and sound engineer.
However, there are things more important than immediate return and a following a clear path, and one of those is appreciating the present, however trivial it may seem at the time.
The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future. In truth all sensation is already memory.
As I sit here, on my 29th birthday in my room on floor 3 of the Noya hotel in Dallas, Texas, one day away from our show at the X-Games with Glitch Mob, I consider whether I’d be having a fuller life experience out on the city. I could be skateboarding the smooth, level pavement that spans the city, enjoying a ball game with friends, or post up in a park somewhere enjoying the sun with my laptop, writing new music inspired by the vibe of the city.
I can do all of that though, and keep this blog updated too, sharing and freezing these fragments of time, for others to experience and appreciate. My goal moving forward is to expedite the writing process, breaking my posts into smaller pieces, more like Tapas than a series of full-course meals.
So expect to see shorter updates from me, more often. Even after The Glitch Mob tour ends there’s an ever-shifting evolution of my time in this industry, and I’d like to share and remember every moment.
Even – especially – the trivial ones.
Sound check at The Greek, Berkeley