Black Tie Elephant will be opening for Pet Lions this Friday at Mike's loft at the intersection of Milwaukee and Wabansia! Come check out our set which will include some BTE classics as well as some new jams. This will be the last and only show with Rahul before he moves out of town. Don't miss it!
Since this is a house party show, I'm not exactly sure when we will play. I will update with the time we'll play when I find out. To be safe, come around 9:30 and hang out for a bit.
9:30 to be safe
1742 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Once upon a time I lived in half of a garage in Champaign. Rent was $260, utilities included and I had a stove, refrigerator and a bathroom with a concrete floor shower. I did stuff like throw boomerangs with Mike and Onur and give myself bad haircuts. When it rained all the ants would try and stay dry by trying to invade my place. I think the entire room was 10x12.
This was the first place I lived by myself after graduating from college and at the time my priority was to save money - mostly because I wanted to hang around Champaign to keep playing music with Black Tie Elephant, a trio made up of myself, Rahul Barua, and Brendan Finucane.
The best thing to happen while I lived in that insane garage space was being contacted by Mike Brosco via myspace. Mike used to part of an avante garde art rock band in the late 80s called Proof of Utah, who were signed to an obscure overseas label and gained a small cult following for their colorful, avante-garde noisy-zappa-esque-yet-insanely-poppy songs (p.s. they are writing new songs!). Mike's solo stuff is mostly ambient, eno-esque material. Anyway, Mike somehow heard some of my tracks on myspace and invited me over to his home studio, trusting me enough to eventually mess with his equipment and rearrange all of his things.
Seriously though, Mike is definitely one of the most generous and sincere guys I've ever met. After letting me tinker in his studio, he even invited the rest of BTE members over and we messed around a bit. However, we never really got a chance to develop much in the studio, as Brendan and Rahul both left town to pursue worldly adventures. Mike and I did end up working on a few ambient pieces for a friend's film project, which was cool.
A few months ago Brendan and Rahul both moved back to Chicago and we started playing again. We've written a few new songs and since Rahul is leaving for Scotland in two weeks we had to get something down on tape. So on a whim we decided to head down to Champaign and do an all day session with Mike Brosco in his studio, aiming to lay down two solid, well developed tracks. We just got back from Champaign a few hours ago and as I listen to the tracks, it was totally worth it - I think they came out fantastic.
Also, BTE is working on putting together a mini-performance before Rahul leaves. I'll be sure to keep ya'll posted...in the meantime check out the new PoU material!
Since the CD poster sold out, I added the option to buy a burned CD-R on zirafamusic.com for those that still want a physical hard copy.
I had a lot of fun making the music for Hipshooter, and making the CD poster was an experience in and of itself. But due to the labor intensive process of making each one by hand, they are now sold out. I might start making more in the future, however only if enough people request it to warrant the effort. I'll post some pics later of the process, but roughly it goes like this (each step was done in batch):
- Buy supplies
- Cut out 8x11 square of foamboard
- Go to Kinko's to make color photocopies of artwork
- Glue artwork to foamboard, trim edges
- Write on back of foamboard with paint marker
- Use computer to make a copy of the CD
- Spray paint CD, masking off section for later drawing
- Let CD dry, don't let anything fall on wet paint
- Draw outline of TV and lettering with black sharpie
- Color the inside of the TV with red, green, blue sharpie
- Take CD center plastic piece, attach it to foamboard
- Put CD in CD holder
- Wrap finished CD Poster in crumpled newspaper
- Insert into addressed manila envelope
- Go to post office and mail it
Altogether I estimate that it took me 110 minutes to make each CD poster. If this was a real job I would've gotten paid less than $1.50/hour, haha. I definitely didn't think it'd take so long, and I also didn't anticipate the number of orders I got all at once. Along the way I ran into a number of problems: getting all the supplies took some time, I'm a pretty bad drawer, and I ran out of spray paint which meant taking a trip to get some more + signing to get it (selling spray paint in Chicago is illegal).
Part of my drought in releasing CDs is that it seems like a pretty boring format to me, disposable. I buy a CD and listen to it a few times, inevitably the CD case and artwork get lost and then I misplace the actual CD itself for a few months - only to rediscover it later with joy. But even then, I don't listen to music much on a CD player anymore and will search for a digital copy (I'm too lazy to even rip CDs!).
So it would seem weird to me to give/sell something to people that didn't have much worth to me on its own. So to try and remedy the situation, I decided to try out this CD poster idea, and so far I like it. I like the idea of flipping the format to something else (i.e. poster) and then affixing the CD to that. So instead of having a CD with some artwork, it's a poster that has a CD attached. As a bonus, the CD won't get lost in a pile and itself is part of the visual work.
I also wanted to package everything online in a way that was easily accessible and embodied the sense of what an "album" means to me, a package of something: ideas, artwork, music. Stream it now, or download it for later. Buy the CD Poster if you want. Read the notes and contact me, learn more. The only limitation is that my hosting company is pretty bad and sometimes people's downloads wouldn't work. Hopefully that didn't happen to the majority of people though...there isn't a way for me to track this that I know of.
More important than all of this though, is that I feel energized to make more music. Black Tie Elephant has been playing some, and we have a recording date this Saturday. Which is great, because I love BTE and the songs we've composed, but we've done such a terrible job documenting and recording the songs that I'll bet at least 2 albums worth of material have either been forgotten or are just sitting in our heads. That ain't right...
Spinnerty's new record, Sweet Soul
Asif Siddiky Interview (this kid had 2 films debuted at SxSW!)
Kaveh's encounter with Nels Cline
Dunno if I am allowed to link to this yet, but check out DRT YRT. Trippy downtempo with that crunchy sound...
I promised some big updates...here they are!
I'm happy to announce a new music project I just finished, the Hipshooter EP. Hipshooter was inspired by dancing, blips and bleeps, old cowboy movies, lasers, free jazz, forgotten technologies, and bagel sandwiches. It's a listen-from-the-hips type of record (a first for me). So if you get a chance, please visit zirafamusic.com to stream the album, download it for free, or purchase a very limited CD release.
+ Includes 320 kbps MP3 version of the album.
» $6...CD (LIMITED SUPPLY)
+ Full Color 8x11 CD-Poster with CD mount, and hand drawn CD. Very limited supply since they are made by hand. Free shipping!
Feel free to forward this to people you think might be into it! I hope to be releasing more work through zirafamusic.com in the future.
Also, if you didn't notice, I gave this site a nice makeover to match with the new zirafamusic.com.
WE MADE IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!
Major, mind-blowing updates coming soon. Promise. For real.