In the area of self-representation, it appears vital to apply polish for a nice, glossy finish. I, on the lo-fi fringe, get mesmerized by the video and graphics on display in my Instagram feed from fellow artists who can’t possibly all have a team of publicists, web designers, videographers and editors working for them. You can’t tell the DIY, up-and-coming from the established, successful any more! It’s all good! Of course, the music itself still remains the acid test. And it isn’t all good, of course. Though it, too, can benefit from a little expert buffing. I’ve often wished I could afford more time in the studio...
So I hesitate before sharing any aspect of my sordid, humble reality. But I’ll just assume you, like me, get weary and suspicious now and then of reality as glimpsed through the screens of social media.
Along with pursuing gigs under my own name, I’ve been rehearsing here in Düsseldorf with a new, more commercially-oriented electric trio, which should be up and running shortly after I get back from some Summer gigs in the U.S.
Rather than pay 16 euro an hour at a studio (choke!), we rehearse in the drummer’s cramped cottage in his neighborhood Kleingarten. And, rather than haul my new keyboard (the one I had to buy, along with God knows how much other stuff, when we moved here) back and forth on public transport, I've just been playing Mike the drummer's horrendous little Yamaha KSO (keyboard-shaped-object). No complaints; there are more important things than the sound or touch of the keys to concentrate on for now, like the arrangements, harmonies, my foot pedal bass lines, etc.
Spring came and it got nice out. And that little cottage heats up like an oven when it’s sunny. Fortunately, it cools off pretty quickly at night, but other tenants are now out drinking beers and admiring their manicured gardenettes at all hours, so, except on rainy nights, we now have to rehearse with a headphone mix rather than a PA, and Mike on an electronic drum kit. (Many Germans, I think it’s safe to say, brook no nonsense when it comes to letting you know if you step over a line. Mike was playing a little Pat Metheny on his stereo the other day and a neighbor in the back beyond complained the music was too loud. Mike had to show her the db app on his phone to prove the music was quieter than a cell phone ring).
It’s not an ideal setup. In fact, it's straight up cheap, lo-fi, DIY, garage band, not Gangnam style. That’s my world, most of the time–for now. Ohhh… hints of ambition, boot-strap determination and dreams of a glossier future? Psssh. Get real. At the end of rehearsal last night, I was putting my gear, such as it is, out of the way—coiling cables and unplugging power supplies. I asked Mike where to put the afore-mentioned... “Oh, the keyboard goes in the toilet.”
"But it doesn't fit."