I’m sitting in a chair, ready to start writing, and my back is killing me. There’s good days, and there’s less good days, and tomorrow my back might feel just fine. There’s not a lot of constants in life, but this is always true for me: music is my true communicator, healer, companion.
If I’m not altogether making sense, it’s probably because I don’t really know how to write this. About 14 years ago, I quit producing and engineering music after having done that for 20 years. I was tired, broke, and interested in finding new paths, like learning about the other things in myself that had been put aside while immersing myself in recording studios for 16, 20-hour days.
I never meant to stay away this long, but there were health problems along the way (3 major surgeries, ouch!), and it’s taken until now to feel up to speed. One thing about almost not making it through two of those surgeries is a lovely renewed lease on life, a deep gratitude for each day, which is one of the best things found in my 14-year break.
If there’s regrets in my life, some of which are well known, like my poor business skills and not providing for myself, I don’t regret one moment of recording; ok, maybe a couple of regrettable projects, but overall, no complaints here. If I ended up penniless, I also ended up with a huge stack of projects I worked on that I remain humbly proud of. And I got to know so many amazing people along the way.
So here I am again, I discovered about as much about myself and other things as I need to, at least for now, and over the past year, I realized how I miss creating, and helping artists create; I miss the process of all that, from pre-production, to engineering, mixing, all the things that help that work.
About a year ago, I downloaded Ableton, a popular electronic music recording software (DAW, if you want to be accurate I guess), and started learning how things have changed in those 14 years, how to make sound work now.
Along the way, I surprised myself by finding my inner electronic music guy, and I’ve had the best time creating my own world through that. There’s a couple of “albums” coming out soon (digitally), under my alias Yserba, one instrumental, one electronic, and I’m pretty pleased I could do something so different, and along the way, I think I learned enough about modern sound and how to record on a computer that I became ready to record others.
Early this year I worked with a cool local band named Swerve. Leader Bruce Rayburn hounded me for many months, and once I was ready, we all went in and did a quick 4-day recording. There was a moment when we were doing a guitar overdub, when I sat back and really heard the guitar sound; I think that was one of the main things I had become good at, and there was a bittersweet joy at achieving that again; I realized it’s something I should do. It’s as much a part of me as those things I took time of to find.
I was going to write a detailed account of the Swerve session, and more about my path to where I currently am, but all the attempts failed, so this will have to do. The short version of that is it was exciting, at times difficult, and deeply fulfilling when I got to sit back and listen to music I can be in awe of that I helped facilitate.
So I’m back, don’t let fear of cost keep you away, and I’m ready to help people make great music. Hopefully I’ll be writing about music more; one of the things I discovered about myself in this time is how much I like to write, and I’ve been needing to get back to that, so this is several starts at once.
As I sit in the chair, my back slowly getting better, I’m listening to the album Abysma by Geotic. It’s wonderful, and I’m inspired by how much amazing music is out these days.
Life is beautiful. I look forward to what happens, and yes, I am no longer retired.
Something From Swerve:
My first electronic piece:
A few of the things from my past I worked on, in case you don’t know:
Band picture is Swerve at Sharkbite Studios in Oakland. Picture of me is at the awesome Sharkbite Trident console, while helping the Sunset Shipwrecks a couple years ago, which helped plant the seed for this return. I produced, engineered and mixed the Operation Ivy, Mr T Experience, Sweet Baby and Songs For Emma albums, engineered the Green Day one.