2017 --- There's always a plan. You're here to learn from the inner workings of my plan to improve your own game.
MY PLAN: Record music for the next three years with the goal of creating one song every week. Then switch gears and paint for one year, creating one 6" X 6" oil painting on wood panel every day. Along the way, will be a few Kickstarter projects (click upper left to see our latest project). I'll document my progress here. Since this is a diary, the best way to read it if you haven't been keeping up is to go to the bottom of the page and scroll up.
Welcome to my diary. Visit often and share!
3/09/2017 --- I've been flushing out my system with red beets, kidney beans, lemons, Ibuprofen, and apples because it may not just be gallstones but kidney stones as well. But... I am sooooooo much better today. I got up early this morning to catch the animation. The clip finished and I am re-rendering my intro because I didn't get the colors quite right the first time. That won't be done for another two days. By that time I shall return from Dallas. I am taking a day off to meet Brian Mahoney, a friend of mine from my Marine Corps days. He's flying into Dallas and we're going to the UFO/Saxon concert on the 10th. I had time yesterday to tinker around with a 15 second clip and once the rerender is done I shall render that then do some live video and that should get me to a finished video by next week.
I received all the test pieces I had produced from a company called Aspen Creek Photo. Totally astounded at the amazing quality of their prints on metal. FREAKIN' loving it! Highly recommended company. They really make my oil paintings POP in glossy. In my fourth year I'm going to switch gears and complete 333 oil paintings squares in a year. They're all going to be turned into limited edition signed prints on metal. So excited!!! Talk to you after the concert.
3/08/2017 --- It's true. Fried chicken IS The DEVIL! I know I shouldn't do it and yet I do it anyway. I've been sacked for a few days now. Gallstones completely suck. This cannot be. I am supposed to be at a UFO/Saxon concert this Friday. The apples and red beets are helping to stave off the gallstone attack. Every month, since about 2007, I go in to the nurse for a shot of somatuline depot (lanreotide), which helps to lower my GH levels and prevents the brain tumor from growing back. The side effect it has is that over time it creates gallstones. I am to the point now where I should seriously have my gallbladder removed. In fact, I went in yesterday to the VA for my monthly shot, came home, and went right back to bed.
In art, I have one computer rendering an animation clip now. Later today I am going to create my next 12 CD's as digital digipaks. Not real CD packages but highly accurate 3D models to animate in my upcoming Kickstarter video. Animation is a tedious process. First you create 3D models. Then you set a digital stage with the models, light it up, and create the animation. Once you have all the timing issues and kinks fixed you render the clip. Depending upon the complexity of the animation, reflections and such, it sometimes takes as long as an entire week to render 10-12 seconds of animation. When you're done, you save the clip and begin animating the next 10-12 seconds. Those clips are then strung together in a video editor. The clip I'm currently rendering is only ten seconds long but is only half way done and won't be done for another 24 hours. In that time, I have to get all my 3D models ready and perfect. So... this week, no music. Music ain't happening! But I may have a video ready for you to see sometime next week.
3/06/2017 --- My latest song is going to require some meticulous tinkering. First off, it's a piano song and I don't play piano. ANYTIME you hear piano (or anything other than a string instrument really) on a Plague of Smiles recording you are hearing MIDI data that was manipulated note by note by hand. For this song, I have taken out my orange electrical tape and marked out a scale by ear on the keyboard. I later discovered from an online site that I am tinkering around in the A# Major scale. For some reason, the scale sounds sads to me. Anyone else? Once the scale is marked out I record each note and then use the FOLD tab in Ableton Live to eliminate ANY note that is not in the scale. That way, everything you hear is in the correct key and scale and I can draw notes in freely without worrying too much about how they're going to sound. Now, the drums (tuned to the key of E) still sound good to me but I may have to go ahead and move them either 6 tones up or down to fit in with A#. I may be able to get away with moving them one tone down to D#, which also is in the scale. Anyway... tinkering.
In other news, up above you and to the left will find that I have added a KICKSTARTER button. That button will take you to my latest project. The draft for the page is up so that press can get a look at the REMOTE VIEWING / E.S.P. Experiment that I will be running when we launch. I have also provided the page for general critique. It has a comment page. Look over the project and leave a critique if you please. I do not as of yet have a video for the page but I'm working on it. IF YOU are the press contact me now email@example.com
3/03/2017 --- Sometimes the plans do not flow according to the plan! Today was one such day. INSTEAD of the plan I took a step backward, which I believe has lead to six or seven steps forward. I spent my whole day working on a new Kickstarter project. 98% of the Kickstarter is done. I have to work on some future stretch goals and there is of course the video. Aside from that I am again using the strategy of, "GO BIG OR GO HOME." It is time for an announcement.
I AM GOING TO LAUNCH A REMOTE VIEWING / E.S.P. EXPERIMENT!
You read that correctly. (in addition to a CD) I have had many paranormal experiences in my life. I want to expand what I've experienced in a new and daring experiment designed to pull in people who are interested in the paranormal. If YOU like the music that I'm creating and YOU are interested in the paranormal then I'd like to hear from you and I want YOU to get involved. Click on this link and read the page, read the rewards, pay attention to the experiment. THEN... if you know someone who'd be into this then contact them now and show the link to them. Post comments. Enough talking. CLICK ON THIS LINK!
3/02/2017 --- Skipped working on music for the moment, though I may lay some drums later. Instead of working on music I started my day (1:30 a.m. that is) with a trip to IHOP for some late night food. The coffee got me going so that by the time I got back home I had a lot of ideas. I opened up my Kickstarter account and began playing around with plans for a new project. The sun's been up for about an hour so I'm heading out for lunch and to visit my mom. Drinking coffee as I did last night is going to keep me up for a few more hours. Plenty of time to straighten things out.
2/28/2017 --- Homework time. Listening to David Bowie's last EP and Stephen Pearcy's new solo CD called "Smash" which is fresh and surprising. I spent last night working on several digipaks. I don't know if I will EVER produce a CD since they're not really profitable anymore but if I do decide to a limited edition run then at least my next 12 releases are ready to go.
2/27/2017 --- (Later in the same day after sleep.) Ever heard of the word “PAREIDOLIA?” It is a human trick of the senses in which people seem to see, hear, or feel hallucinations and patterns that aren’t really there. Some people see Jesus or the Virgin Mary, in say, their pancakes. Some people see things in clouds such as faces, people, or animals. Some people hear words whispered in songs where none are present. I frequently hear these pareidolias in my studio while recording music. This particular song has, to me, three very distinct pareidolias in them. There is one 39 seconds in where I hear the phrase “Desert Sadness.” Sprinkled through the middle of the song there is a chorus phrase that sounds like background singers singing, “A Doot Doot!” Then at the end of the song, where it repeats, I hear voices saying, “Figure it out. Your money don’t bleed. You know the Devil sleeps with a nailgun, gun, gun!” But no voices or samples did I use in this recording. Just instruments and effects that created cool sounds.
The song is called Human Pincushion: Your Money Don’t Bleed! The original working title was Epincushion because the song is in the key of E, using the melodic minor scale (which I am having lots of fun/sadness with).
Have you ever met someone who you know damn well is working themselves to death to get that $$$? I myself am sometimes guilty of this. I get overwhelmed with my medical problems and the feeling that I HAVE NO CHOICE, I have to push myself to break through the wall or die. And now, when I go to sleep to repair, I rarely wake up feeling better. I feel like I’ve been fighting with devils all night and it makes me sad. I got so bad, pushing myself chasing money and all, that I just recently had a heart attack. Now I see doctors a lot and it’s a lot of bloodwork and shots. So there you go, the song’s a no-brainer lesson in psychology. You’re welcome!
Listen to the song and think about how it makes you feel, that relentless push and drive to succeed and in the end… we all die. “Figure it out. Your money don’t bleed. You know the Devil sleeps with a nailgun, gun, gun!”
Your money don’t bleed, but YOU do.
E melodic minor.
2/27/2017 --- So tired. Sleepy tired and tired of listening. The guitars are laid in but after so many hours working away at it I had to force myself to quit rather than push on and mix it. I never like to mix on tired ears because a type of hypnosis develops that is similar to road hypnosis. You think you got the curves and in your mind speed is completely under control but what's really going on is that YOU are headed for a ditch my friend. Say HELLO TO MUD! Because that's where you're headed when you mix on tired ears. Today's tip for musicians, who like me, don't know jack shit about music theory, and don't care to learn music theory but still want to sound cool, concerns very thin electrical tape in bright colors. I used orange electrical tape on my keyboard and fretboard to mark out a position in E melodic minor. You can find all your scales here: https://www.apassion4jazz.net/keys.html
The electrical tape peels off easily without leaving any residue. I mark a position where I know I'm going to play and I only play the notes in the scale that I've chosen at random. Also useful is a chord wheel by Jim Fleser published by Hal Leonard. You just dial in the key of the song and it gives you the primary and secondary notes and 7th's so you can write popular song progressions without having to study music for years and years on end. Fuck music theory. That shit gets in the way of passion and developing a good ear. You don't need that. Electrical tape. That's what you need. And sleep. Get lots of sleep. I'll wake up fresh, listen to music other than my own to clear my head and when I'm ready I'll mix down and post song #23 to the Internet. See you tomorrow.
2/26/2017 --- My latest song has several aural pareidolia's in it. Look up the word. It's not intentional. It just so happens that sometimes when I'm chopping or running things through different effects I'll hear what sounds like English speech. Lead keyboards are done. Tomorrow I lay guitars and the last day of February I mix down and post to the Internet. I'm done early today and my house is cleaned up already so I may watch a few episodes of AMC's Human's or perhaps a late night drive to clear the mind, that's always fun when the talk radio is good. It's 2:11 a.m.
2/25/2017 --- The more I record the easier it gets and also the more addictive. I think the secret is jumping right in and playing, not waiting until you have a finished song. To experiment in glitch is divine. Tonight I did the bass line. Once the drums are finished to a point where a bass can bounce off them is where I jump in. I usually play the music once or twice and try a few things to see how they fit. With that initial idea I record one line, all the way to the end of the song, and sometimes a little beyond. Anything that sucks gets chopped out. I'll put one or two bars on a loop and play them over and over and over again and slowly start composing the line on two tracks note by note. I will try anything. Reversing audio, using effects, chopping, stretching, punching in if necessary, warping... it's all good so long as the song is properly served. Tonight I would like to thank the spirit of Mr. Gene Simmons and a little known member of the "Wrecking Crew" a bass player who goes by the name of Carol Kaye and has written literally THOUSANDS of hits over the years. When it comes to bass, if I'm not playing some Flea inspired stuff, I pull out Gene and Carol and ask, "What would they Do?" The song is coming together nicely so despite half a pot of coffee I am taking a nap before my feet swell up. Since my heart attack my pumper only puts out pumps at the 30% level and anytime I push it too hard I feel shitty and my feet swell up like elephant trunks because the blood is pooling down below and not circulating. Tomorrow I add keyboards and noise candy!
2/24/2017 --- The drum work I did tonight feels good to me. It is a fine example of glitch; "glitch music" is a thing if you didn't know it, sometimes called "chop." The guy I call the MASTER of this music would be BT, Brian Transeau. I procrastinated so long today. It was shot day. Every two weeks I jab a needle in one of my legs to give my body the testosterone that my damaged pituitary gland no longer delivers. And every month I go in for a shot of somatuline depot (lanreotide) that comes in a HUGE needle and a nurse gives it to me in the ass (It soaks up the excess growth hormone and keeps the brain tumor from growing back while we're waiting for the gamma knife surgery to kick in). I'm currently calling my new song "Human Pincushion." Tomorrow I add bass and probably some keyboard melody work. I love it when the beat/drums come together as well as they did tonight. It makes everything that follows easier and a lot more fun! I'm hoping my dreams today are going to be as awesome as the ones I had last night. I felt like I had just graduated from some art school and was gathering my paintings. I paint and create and show off a lot of art in dreams but hardly ever compose music. Weird.
2/23/2017 --- I began work on a new song by creating a beat with my custom drum rack. Word of advice... TUNE YOUR DRUMS people! I use the Spectrum utility in Ableton Live to tune each drum in my rack (look it up on youtube to find a How To). I have one rack tuned to E and another tuned to A and both are panned as if it were a real drum kit sitting in front of you. Most popular music is either in E or A because human vocals sit well there. If I need something in another key I can just record a clip of my beat and use the envelope editor to transpose it. Tomorrow I'll tighten up the drum track and hopefully get to the bass. I'm also working with an engineer on a secret modeling/animation project so time is going to be precious until that secret project is finished and delivered to the client.
2/22/2017 --- There was no song this week. I took a step back and returned to youtube school, watching videos from ill Factor Music, AK, and Vespers to up my game. Anytime you feel bogged down or stuck, humble yourself down, go back to school and learn something new!
In merch I have added a Plague of Smiles BLEEDING CUT Skateboard to my page. The company that produces my skateboards is BoardPusher.com. The boards are of the highest quality, with colors that pop, and they arrive within days of putting in the order. I don't expect the board to sell until The Bleeding Cut gets a lot more songs on it but it's up nonetheless.
Behind the scenes I have been working with Aspen Creek Photo (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!) to produce my artwork on metal prints, as seen below. They've done several pieces for me and I've ordered two of my oil paintings in both glossy and satin finishes to see how they look. As many of you already know, I have a backburner project that involves 333 oil paintings and depending upon how these metal prints come out I may have something stupendous to offer in the year 2020 in the form of signed and numbered limited edition prints on metal, bundled with my music on bandcamp. Wish me luck!
2/08/2017 (later in the same day. What a busy night!) --- This is song 22 that I wrote last night for one very special person and is in fact, the title track of The Bleeding Cut CD. This song is dedicated to her. Note by note I wrote this music and decided that unlike my other songs I would let this shine without the fancy accompaniment - and hurt you all on its own!
The cuts that hurt the most are the ones you never see coming. Everything starts out so well, the sun is shining down on you, everything is so easy and simple, laughter fills your life, and then out of nowhere… a fucking monster attacks and begins cutting someone out of your life.Forever. This song is like that. It takes you on a journey from beginning to end. Some things cannot and should not be said in words. This song, and the way it makes me feel, says everything unsaid that I can’t get out without breaking down into a blubbering mess. None of us are immortals. You should use this day you have to communicate to someone close to you, by any means possible, and tell them that they hold a special place in your heart. Enjoy and share The Bleeding Cut.
2/08/2017 --- Steve Vai does this thing where he stands still right in the sweet spot on stage and allows the guitar to feedback. He will then shift ever so slightly in the sweet spot to pick up these amazing harmonics. I was able to recreate something like that in the studio using a MIDI keyboard line and used that buildup of sound for the song’s ending.
For those who are interested, the term “CHOP” is something modern studio musicians throw around. It means to take a recorded line and chop it up, rearranging the notes, and playing around note by note to get the line that you want. Sometimes this means reversing passages, stretching and warping certain sections, and playing around with effects to get a sound that otherwise could not exist, and though it could be mocked, it usually cannot be played live.
Most performing musicians loathe chopping because it’s something that sounds good to the engineer but they’re not going to be able to use it live. Other musicians create their chop line and use it as the basis live to turn effects knobs and take it to a new level as a DJ. Because I have ZERO INTENTIONS of ever performing live I fully embrace the CHOP. Love it. Other musicians that I admire and look up to who also use the chop are Trent Reznor from NIN, BT who frequently scores some of your favorite movies, and a young performing artist called Grimes who recently went out on tour as the support band for Lana Del Rey.
Anyway, my song this week is a day late but it required some last minute mixing to get it to sound just how I wanted it to. The piece of music is entitled: "You Gonna Eat That Chop?" Enjoy and share!
Kenneth David Bryon Webber is an opinionated artist, designer, 3D modeler, animator, musician, and CEO of Plague of Smiles LLC, an art and music company.
He worked on avionics for the FA-18 Hornet while in the Marine Corps then left with an Honorable Discharge to pursue a career in the arts. He attended the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design, but only for a short time as a growing brain tumor brought a touch of madness and homelessness. The tumor was discovered late but thanks to the VA, brain surgery, and gamma knife a real life is still salvageable. 2015 brought a heart attack and the installation of a pacemaker/defibrillator. So it's safe to say that Ken has felt many thorns in his pursuit of the roses. Stay smiling!