CALLING OUT NICK SUMBLES, FIGHT ME D:<
Ignore the combative nature of the title of this post. Nick is a good boo but he's in my mind right now from a conversation we recently had in Austin Texas at his Astronox music and arts festival. For the unaware, Nick has an account on Newgrounds, FatKidWithAJetpack. Many years ago, Nick uploaded a ton of ambient works produced in Garageband, which is the same program I used circa 2006-2007. One track he uploaded grabbed my attention because it was literally just a loop from the Garageband loop library called "catwalk loop 2" or something.
Newgrounds can probably feel a little gate-keepy for new music producers as there can be strict modding against covering, remixing, and sampling while being incredibly lax on certain others. In other words, the ban hammer comes down unequally hard on some people. I've always felt grateful that those in charge seem to ignore a lot of my sample usage. At the end of the day, Newgrounds is a small operation of misfits and I'm just glad to feel like I have a space to goof off. If someone is looking the other way every time I drop some Captain Falcon grunts, thank you <3
Back to Nick, he now runs an incredible little festival called Astronox with plenty of good vibes. I had the opportunity to attend the festival mostly because my maid of honor EchozAurora was making the trip out to Astronox so I decided to beg my husband for the camp gear despite us having just spent a small fortune on a wedding, a tractor, and a bunch of musical instruments. I knew it would be fun. Nick has curated, organized, and hosted an incredibly fun event! If you're in the area I'd highly recommend doing it up next year!
I love events with copious numbers of creative people of many practices, disciplines, and backgrounds. Some of my favorite events included the 2016 Pico Day event at the NG office, the 2017 North American Beatbox Championships, four years of art school at Alfred University, and now Astronox. As creatives it's good to be social and to get out of the house. Inspiration doesn't happen in a vacuum, so go meet people and experience life! See beauty in all forms of creativity. Some of my favorite artists to talk to at Astronox were actually the food vendors. These creative geniuses literally put some of their food mashups into cut up Tostito bags, look at this bomb ass menu:
If that menu isn't impressing you, try being stoned for five days straight. I bought so much food from this vendor. The tacos were authentic but those garbage Tostito bags existed in their own dimension of flavor and texture c':
While at the festival Nick said something along the lines of "I really need to check out your music" and I saw a small wave of disgust cross his face when I responded with something along the lines of "you know where it is." To make things a little easier for him if he takes the time to read this, the remainder of my post is a gentle push towards some of my best work:
These three songs are hands down my proudest.
I love putting $pare ¢hange at the front of the catalog because it shows off some of my love for ideas stemming from the Romantic masters of European music. Many Newgrounds artists focus entirely on orchestral music but I prefer hearing classical sounds get progressively spliced into contemporary genres and ideas. I had the privilege to take piano lessons and music history at Alfred University. Romantic masters of the 1800s had all sorts of creative legroom not afforded to previous generations of European composers. While the arpeggios in Spare Change are fairly basic and the horns chromatic, I feel like I managed to nail a cinematic sound not previously realized in older tunes. The time signature begins in triple, moves to a duple rhythm, then ends again in a rubato orchestral triple meter. The original song was entirely triple meter but swapping that drum rhythm out for a duple rhythm gave the synth patch a new found freedom from the original triple meter. I've never gotten so lucky with experimental ideas...
Sounds Nothing Alike sounds obnoxiously similar in tone and style to $pare ¢hange but I always return to it because of the mixdown and groove. Perhaps not the kind of Dubstep most would listen to as it's more electro and dance oriented? As for the third track, Absoluetly No Contrtol, I've always had a good relationship with hipsters having been a gatekeepy youth myself at one time. Absolutely No Control is the edgiest shit I've ever managed to write. My younger self would probably grunt and foot tap in massive approval. I make so much more than edgy and angry shit though, never wanted to get trapped in a little box. The following tracks are some of my favorites that don't grime:
I was really lucky to get to work on We Are Finally Free. A graphic artist here, RickStuebens was learning guitar and posted some of his licks on Discord. I sampled them and made little guitar loops out of them. I'll always look back to youthy highchool days as the paragon of what music should be. Back then we were just dumb kids with fancy instruments and big dreams gathering ourselves on weekends to share jams and experiment. We Are Finally Free embodies an experimental vibe much like a jam session. Random instruments bashfully weave melodies in and out of a driving rhythm and bass. Rick's guitar loops tie the whole song together with a constant lullaby. This was a fun project to share.
Us Chapter 3 is a highlight song from a multi year animation project with Bleak-Creep. In a previous blog I posted an image from my wedding of us standing shoulder to shoulder. I kind of made her a "brides maid" to coax her out for the wedding but working with her on Us meant alot to me. As a transwoman I'm always torn between role model visibility and living a peaceful life of conformity far away from society. Us was a chance to branch out of my grimey dance music and spread my wings as a pianist to help create a piece of LGBT media that might help guide, entertain, or educate others. I was such an angry kid but Newgrounds was always a haven. Us is something soft and beautiful inside a chaotic sea of hentai and furries...
The Feeling You Feel Right Now, I'm Feeling It Too was written after some of the best drug fueled sex in my life. A friend Sean once said something along the lines of "IDM is the most perfect form of music humans have ever created" and while I disagree with him entirely, the genre is still one I massively love. If you're feeling adventurous you can return to 2008 when I wrote "Aeronautics" and hear some of the same vibes and sounds. I don't think it's particularly hard to write uninspired IDM given that the genre lends itself to experimentation but done with the right inspiration it can be a timeless sound.
The previous six songs are among my favorites and they represent the directions I'm always torn in. Though I'm not always busily writing new music for the catalog, I play everyday. Whether it's my drum kit, a guitar, or a piano I'm always grinding away. When the music studio is finally done, expect some folky punk or some grungy rock. One final piece of media to share, this video was an experiment to get me on track towards new goals:
Continuity Error is a mish mash of genres, techniques, and ideas. The dreams I once had in highschool to animate cartoons and make videos were lost over the years to a greater desire to make noise and pay bills. Things are coming full circle now. I'm living my happiest days and I feel young again. Thank you for anyone that felt obligated to read past the click bait and engage with this blog <3
UNLESS YOUR NAME IS NICK SUMBLES, FIGHT ME. I WILL HEADLOCK YOUR DICK D:<