What time is it?

Time for a new release!

“Predictions of Doom” is an 8-track electro/synth/pop mini-album. With sounds reminiscent of 80s artists like Depeche Mode and layered vocals similar in style to the Magnetic Fields, each track is a sub-3-minute dose of pure electronic pop, all electro-meat with no unnecessary filler.

It’s available to stream and as a pay-what-you-want (including free) download at http://music.echovoodoo.com/ right now!

Most of the songs were written during FAWM or 50/90 over the past year-and-a-bit.


I was lamenting in my previous entry about my lack of musical direction and the songwriting dry-spell I was in. It was a frustrating period lasting nearly 3 months.

And then came FAWM.

Now it’s less than halfway through February, and I’ve already written 5 songs and 2 instrumentals, well on my way to the 14-track target for the February is Album Writing Month challenge.

I am amazed.

FAWM has an amazing community, and I think that’s part of the reason that it helped kick-start my writing. As soon as the website is opened up in January, there’s a swarm of songwriters logging in and gearing up for February. The excitement is contagious, and pretty soon I couldn’t wait for February to start.

Meeting fellow FAWMers was also a big boost. I was in Toronto at the end of January, and I met a bunch of Toronto-area people who are participating this year. They are a scary-talented bunch, so it was both cool and inspiring to hang out with them. They are also very friendly and easy-going.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the month. I’m pretty sure I’ll get 14 (or more) songs. There are already 3 that I definitely want to polish for an EP release later this year.

But I’m also looking forward to all of the great songs I’ll be listening to as the month goes on. There are so many fantastic songwriters and musicians participating in FAWM, posting up amazing music for free. It’s better than any radio station or record store.

You can follow my progress by checking out my FAWM profile page, and find out more about the February Album Writing Month challenge at FAWM.org.

As 2010 ran down, I experienced something new for me: a dry month, musically. December was the first month in over 4 years in which I did not record a single piece of music. I had an idea for a ukulele-based piece for the monthly KVR contest, but I didn’t get very far. Partly it’s because I caught a very bad flu half-way through the month (my voice still hasn’t recovered), but it feels like more than that.

I could have recorded something earlier in the month, but I found myself lacking motivation. Instead of working on a song, I found myself crocheting, playing Civilization V, reading, watching TV, or virtually anything else except being musical.

It’s an odd place for me to be right now. This past year has been a prolific one for my music writing, and I went on at some length in my previous post about how I’d proved to myself that I can write music whenever I want. So what happens when I don’t seem to want that?

I’m hoping this was a temporary abberation; I’ve always gotten a lot of pleasure out of making music, and I don’t want that to disappear. I guess we’ll see. FAWM is less than a month away, after all.

For the past couple of years, I’ve typically been writing/composing one or two songs/instrumentals a month, mostly for the monthly KVR music contest. It’s been a good pace for me, letting me be creative while still fitting in daily life.

This year, I participated in the February is Album Writing Month (FAWM) challenge, which involved trying to write 14 pieces in 28 days. Since the most I’d written before that was 4 pieces in one month, it was a daunting task. I was quite pleased with the results, as I ended up liking most of the pieces I produced. One or two of them rank among my personal all-time favourites.

Still hopped up on that success, I decided to participate in the 50/90 challenge too: aiming to write 50 pieces during the 90 days between July 4th and October 1st. It’s an even faster pace than FAWM, and long enough to feel like a marathon. There was some additional challenge in that I got married in July (which took about 2 weeks out of my song-writing time), and I travelled to my brother’s wedding in the US (which took another week out of my productive space). I felt like my average quality was lower than FAWM (to meet the deadline, I did push out quite a few bits that I normally would have shelved), but I did get quite a few really nice instrumentals that I intend to release as an album.

One of my fears going in to both challenges was that I would be unable to maintain a decent level of quality. There’s a sense I’ve had sometimes that creativity is a limited resource, and that you can ‘run out’ of it. I think I put those fears to rest with these challenges; while it was a grind producing so much music, I found there were a good number of pieces for which I was very pleased with the quality, and that they were spread out through the challenge (ie. they didn’t all bunch up at the start; even some of my later productions were quite good, in my mind).

One thing became pretty clear to me, though: I definitely need more time to polish my tunes than I could take during the challenges. There are a couple of songs from FAWM that need a complete re-do; the songs are strong, but the production and recording are too rough for my liking. Many of my better instrumentals still need some tweaking before I’m ready to ‘officially’ release them.

So I think my goals going forward are to spend more time on my productions and learn to polish them properly before releasing them. I know for certain now that I can write/record/produce songs/instrumentals very quickly and steadily if I wish, so that’s not something I need to focus on.

Also, I think I’d like to be more discriminating about what music I make available to the world at large. I’ve had a habit of posting almost everything I make somewhere on the Internet. That means the quality of my released work varies quite a bit, from rather poor to excellent (on my personal scale, anyway). From now on, if I don’t feel a piece is at a certain level of quality, I think I’ll keep it to myself (even if it means skipping a month in the KVR contest, for instance).

We’ll see what the future will bring.

I set up a page on Bandcamp.com late last year (you can check it out here). Bandcamp has gotten a lot of buzz over the past year, and deservedly so – it’s a nice site, easy to use, and they’re very forward-thinking.

One of the things I liked about it, being a hobbyist with no commercial inclinations, was that it was completely free. When they talked about eventually monetizing it, it was always in the context of taking a cut of sales. They had repeatedly said that the basic service would remain free.

Well, that’s changed. According to a post on the Bandcamp blog:

Starting today, new accounts come with 200 free downloads, and all existing accounts are granted 500. (You can of course still sell an unlimited amount of music using Bandcamp.) Each time a fan downloads a track or album for free, it counts as 1 against your balance (an album, regardless of how many tracks it contains, still only counts as 1 download). You can buy more downloads for a small fee from your Tools page.

It’s not that this will cost me a lot of money – according to their stats page, I’ve had less than 25 downloads since I started with them (though, based on conversations I’ve had with friends and fans, I’m not sure Bandcamp counted all of my downloads correctly). At that rate, I can stay there for a decade before I have to shell out some cash.

Still, I find myself feeling disappointed. It’s probably unreasonable of me, but it’s there. I think it’s because the whole reason I set up there in the first place was that it was free, and they said more than once that it would remain free for people who weren’t making money.

Oh well. I’ll consider my options if and when I start approaching my free download limit, I suppose.

Chipping in


Had a very productive weekend in my quest to write 50 songs in 90 days, with 5 pieces recorded this past weekend (a personal record). The first of the batch, a high-energy chiptune titled Chipping in (free download here) is one of my favourite songs of this year, I think.

For my 20th recording for this year’s 50/90, I decided to try and make a little ambient music. The result is: Question your premise.

My official total for 50/90 so far is 23. One of those is a lyrics-only posting; I’d had an idea for music when I started, but couldn’t put it together in a way I liked. Two other entries are collabs, where my collab partner used one of my instrumentals and built another song on top of it; so I don’t really count them since I’ve already gotten credit for the instrumental, and haven’t done any additional work.