1st January 2015 - 18th March 2015…
In a true testimonial to my uncanny knack for procrastination, I have put off the first blog entry of 2015 for 2.5 months. And a lot has happened in that time. In my defence, having to partially re-write the blog management system with a failing laptop keyboard has not helped. While having problems with motivation, Google was there to help me along by threatening to remove my site from their search algorithms for not basing my site’s design around an iDevice-friendly layout. I used a viewport and standards-compliant markup, what more do I have to do?
So, while waiting for Dell to ship a new keyboard (I use a PC for web-dev and the Mac for sound engineering stuff) from the states, I’m using a cheap Sumvision USB keyboard. I’m not used to it. I might just reboot the Mac into Windows XP tbh.
I occasionally look back on my past blog entries (sometimes to see how far I’ve come technically or socially - and at others to see how much I’ve failed in general) and think “OMG WTF was I thinking” and other lazy text abbreviations. So, to continue the cringe-fest…
In my last entry, I tried to be humorous by spoofing a Bon Jovi song name for my blog title/file name. Bon Jovi was right: this time I really am In And Out Of Love. I wish I’d just kept quiet.
Hence, the curse of Stevie C.
I had wanted to call this entry “So quiet you can hear the rabbits farting outside” as I found this little gem in a blog_frag.txt file - although that would not have fit into the H1 element.
So, Panto season came and went - as did most of the resulting pay check (I’m curious how long I can stave off the JCP). Aside from spending the money on disco lights, an overdraft, more disco lights and possibly still more disco lights - I also bought a bus ticket. A journey to better surroundings and all… I was the happiest and huggiest person in the world. Then the next week, I wasn’t. Such is life. What did I do wrong?
WANTED: Paper Tiger. Must be able to help with a broken heart.
There’s nothing like keeping busy/occupied and thus filling the void with lights - so when I was asked to do music & lights for an acquaintance’s 18th party, I agreed to do exactly that. Having done a 50th disco for the same family a while back, I guess you could call this repeat business. As there are no pictures of The Kirriemuir Thistle Social Club on Google Images, I’m hoping I can still get into their search ranks…
One of the themes for the party was a Hogwarts/Harry Potter type thing, hence the LED fairy strings on the spider and up the beams. The one string of amber LEDs chose that night to not work; so I had to opt for warm-white instead. Cue the rest of the SoundLab Vites, Acme Dynamos and the Soundlab Vorma. I also had to use my M-Audio Profire 2626 as an output for iTunes (I couldn’t use Traktor or Mixmeister as the BonFest 2014 project has slightly ruined my hard disk) as my Mac’s audio port has been slightly damaged.
KT Reid’s 18th Birthday do with Around7
This had been the last time Around7 were playing with their current line-up; and my first time of being the DJ while NOT being the sound engineer. The temptation to constantly clip the mixer was too strong - although my professionalism prevented me from doing so. I got the blame for breaking all the R80 Spot Bulbs in the venue, despite already being broken. Not fun.
The next week I was asked to provide lights for another acquaintance’s engagement party, where DJ Ross would also be playing. The theme of this particular event (at least for The Salty Dog guests) was drag - hence a very surreal night for myself, hanging around like an Emo at a jazz club. I bought a tutu for occasion - my plan being to slip into it after a several whiskeys or midnight, whatever came last.
Some people in drag. Stevie C in stage-blacks.
Shifting this amount of gear from Forfar (4 Vites, a Vexin, A Vorma, a 16" mirror ball, 2 PAR Cans, 3 T-Bars, 3 Moon-flowers, 3 Scanners, 1 laser and hundreds of LEDs - not to mention all the various XLRs and mains leads) coupled with shifting the sound system from the basement of The Salty Dog was an absolute pain. What hurt even more than me & Ross’ backs is the fact that we didn’t use half of it and the night was cut short, as I’ll explain shortly.
As The Korova Conspiracy were playing in The Salty Dog (as of writing, their last ever gig in there for the next wee while), I elected to slip out for a pint and enjoy some proper house music while I could. I got back to the engagement party just after midnight, feeling a bit less uneasy as people in drag make me for some weird reason. No sooner had I ordered another drink (a plastic bottle of WKD which the bar staff had helpfully decanted into a glass for me), a massive fight promptly cut the night short (Ross took his cue to cut the music, while I killed the lights).
Bottles, chairs and insults were hurled across the room like a bad metaphor. A chair flew across the room and collided with a bottle of beer, sending it hurtling thru the air - which would have looked amazing in slow motion. The fights would also have sounded amazing recorded in Binaural, but hey-ho. I want a party with flying chairs. Tea on the ceiling?
DJ Ross after the de-rig.
Another town, another gig, another disco, another rig. And another fight.
Me and DJ Ross returned to the Burnside Inn, Alyth for a Valentine’s Day disco (admittedly not the best place for a recently broken-hearted guy to be). Pretty much the same lighting rig - except plus 2 scanners and minus the mirror ball as the Burnside Inn have their own. Weirdly, they don’t have their own PAR cans/spotlights…
After a while playing 3D-Tetris on Crichton Street, a ton of gear was creatively slotted into a hatchback - along with 4 bonus humans and we were good to go.
Music, Sound & Lights by DJ Ross & Stevie C
At least this time, the fights waited until after chucking-out time. Not that that made them any less scary (somebody was in drag this weekend as well). Cue 4 of us walking to our digs at 2am in Alyth singing “I’ve got the key… I’ve got the secret…”, with a bad Lemmy-lookalike shouting at us after the fight-instigator (NOT one of our lot) had run off with a broken ego and a face to match. Pro Tip: never pick a fight with a gay guy - what will you tell all your friends when you lose?
The DJ arriving the next day for a kids’ party while we were loading out definitely had “Gear Envy”.
That is the question. Time for a break from the pictures.
I was speaking to yet another acquaintance in The Salty Dog (where else?) who suggested I approach a local club (The Reading Rooms) with the view to joining their technical team. This recommendation was based on him having seen a number of my “light shows”. I use the inverted bunny ears as most of my lights represent chaos: lots of LED fairy strings, LED flood lights, disco scanners, lasers, strobes and etc all randomly doing their own sound-to-light stuff. Maybe they’re placed in bushes, wrapped around trees, intertwined with each other or set-up floor-to-ceiling on stage - but the fact remains that no DMX is ever harmed.
I understand the basics of DMX programming, and have been taught how to do some amazingly average effects with the simplest of equipment. I could in theory (and intend to) use a bit more DMXy stuff for Dundee Dance Event 2015. By which I mean that cool thing you can do with multiple Acme Dynamo/Dynarock fixtures: set one unit up as a master, with another linked via DMX as a slave on channel 10, thereby giving a split/opposite effect to the 2 light beams. But it’s still not DMX that I would have taken the time to program.
My friend (not being that interested in the technicalities of things) doesn’t see the DMX programming, he just sees (in his opinion) an amazing light show.
A few LDs/techs have assured me that I would pick up the basics of design for intelligent lights in no time - assuming I learn at the rate of a normal person, which obviously I’m not. Maybe I just need a metaphorical 120Ω termination resistor… This experience has made me realize just how little I know about all the things I know about. A DMX/USB DooDah should be next on my list.
I have been mixing audio for so long now that while one singer is singing “Live Wire”, another is singing “Live Fire”. I swear another is singing “Wi-Fi”. That’s why many engineers recommend taking breaks when mixing - so that you don’t over- or under- compensate for sounds that your brain remembers (e.g. when after an extended period of mixing and your brain/ears get fatigued from the treble, you boost the treble to compensate).
So, it’s done, finally. DVDs should be available soon from DD8 Music. For the conspiracy theorists: If you reverse Live Wire and Hells Bells, you get “I’ve got the sh*ts, would you like ice?” and the disproving of the theory of evolution, respectively.
Ross wanted to add more lights and more quirkiness to The Salty Dog, so he fashioned a Wrecking Ball with a doll and we added lights to it… It took over an hour to get all those lights in there, meanwhile quotes from last year’s panto played over and over in my head.
The Salty Dog weirdness continues
Another week, another party: this time a DD8-related party. I set up LED fairy lights and made some shot glasses out of fruit, as you do.
The Kiwi & Lime worked well with Gin. The Apple worked well with Jack (on the advice of Gaz, our mixologist).
LED fairy lights & Fruit Shot Glasses
As it passed midnight, it was now Sunday and time for Church. Hence the Church of the Latter (Pay)Day Stevie. Take 5 Bloody Marys and sing Hymn #5: Highway To Hell.
The morning after the party, discussion turned to people that have been in coma-like states wherein they are aware of their surroundings but are unable to react in any way whatsoever. So, when their carers abused them or forced them to watch the same episode of Barney over and over for 15 years, they were unable to call for help or turn it off. They wouldn’t be able to object, to block it out or to kill themselves. This is terrifying.
Some people have an ICE number in their phone (“In Case of Emergency”). Some will have an organ donor card in their wallet. I now have a coma-card.
Stevie C’s Coma Card: I.C.E. iTunes
I read this piece [probably NSFW] on why I suck at jobs, love and life in general. At least I can do the 5-points thing - although most of them are to do with lights/sound/creative stuff etc. I always thought I was a nice guy and honest (this. statement. is. a. lie. I. Am. A. Robot. You Knowsit.), but apparently this doesn’t matter. It also kinda helps explain why I have problems finding a job or love, or a job I love. Replace “job” with “regular employment” at will. That said (especially following the linked article), I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. I do amazing lights and sound (allegedly). I am my job in this respect. I am lots of things, I probably don’t show a lot of them tho. I wonder what Paper Tigers look for? I’m too squeamish to learn surgery. My ex-lecturer Nick said there’s nothing wrong with being a Jack Of All Trades, as long as you’re a master of one.
I suppose one example is when I see endless requests on Facebook to like and/or share a new company page/band/gig listing etc. For no other reason than to promote them - but what’s in it for me? Why should I just blindly like/share yet another bland/generic acoustic act? What incentive is there? I don’t know.
Sit Rep: managed to spill a tiny splosh of tea (no sugar!) on my MacBook’s track-pad, which drove the cursor bonkers. No power, a bed of rice and a week later and all is well again. I have since been asked to help fix other lappies suffering from: driver errors, BSODs, drive failures, a bar customer feeding a DJs laptop Jack Daniels and cola, someone else feeding their laptop fairy liquid… Aside from the fact I’m not a PC repair tech, it should be good practice for replacing the keyboard on my Dell.
I will not work for free. It’s not good exposure or good for my CV. Paid work is good exposure and good for my CV. Good exposure is being plugged on every billboard in the country by Alan Parsons/Bill Gates/Noel Gallagher etc, not a mention on twitter or a free sandwich.
Case in point, I was approached by some academic/student website to do an online interview. Specifically, how to break into sound engineering. When they said they expected me to do this for free, I explained that the key to breaking into sound engineering (or any creative field for that matter) is not working for free. It’s one thing for me to approach a person/company/organization, quite another for someone to approach me.
So, in closing, I’ll just say that I’ve just finished operating the Follow-Spot for Joan Armatrading. The follow-spot had been fixed (although it didn’t strike the first time), but I still spent the entire show stupidly worried it was going to fail mid-cue again. Also, I have been challenged to do a remix/re-work of “Time For The Percolator” using a sample of a backed-up toilet in the DD8 Studio. This almost makes up for being turned down for an interview by Angus Council - in a “Guaranteed Interview Scheme”. The mind boggles.
I should probably point out that unlike my Last.fm profile, these Top 40 are just the songs I love the most at the moment - not necessarily what’s been played the most or been recently added.
* Bands I have been mixing.
It’s time to become someone else.