Interview No. 169
Interview By: @The-Great-One
Today's guest is quite possibly one of if not the hardest working musician here on Newgrounds. With his project Better Than The Book being a success here on Newgrounds and acclaim for his assistance towards other musicians here on the site. His skills are incredible as a composer, lyricist, singer, and guitarist. His story is long, but an amazing one and I wish for you to read it all the way to the end. I am most pleased to welcome, @Jabun.
Q: How did you find Newgrounds and why did you join?
A: Man... It was so long ago... I can remember browsing in my teen years to watch all the cool flash animations back in the day: Egoraptor’s “Awesome” series, Legendary Frog’s stuff, “The Matrix Has You”, “The Decline of Video Gaming”, “There’s Something About Halo”, and their sequels, Adam Phillips' Brackenwood series, the list goes on! I’ve always loved animation and it was amazing to me as a teen that people were making these incredible projects independently!
I don’t remember quite how I stumbled upon Newgrounds itself, though I imagine it was through my friends who were pretty savvy when it came to “the places to be” on the internet, and NG was definitely one of them! I joined to upload my own creations: the music I recorded with my band(s) or solo at the time, though many of the earliest projects were actually uploaded on my brother’s account. A lot of this was before the days of YouTube and SoundCloud, when people still had MySpace pages for their bands, and Newgrounds was THE place to upload and share your music. I guess it was a familiar place I enjoyed, as well as a necessity at the time.
Q: You and I have something in common. We both began our craft at the age of 6. That's when I started writing. You started with the piano and the cello. How did you start playing these instruments though? Who introduced you to them?
A: When I was very young there was a piano at this children’s club my brother and I went to, and when I got to primary school and heard the piano being played properly for the children to sing along to, I guess it really resonated with me. I remember at age 6 my brother and I asking my mum if we could learn and she went above and beyond to support that. We looked for teachers but none of them would take “2 young boys who would be too hard to teach” on for lessons, so she talked to the pianist at our school, and after some convincing, though she’d never taught anyone before, we became her first students. My dad was working overseas at the time and unbeknownst to me we didn’t have a lot of money (not that at age 6 I really knew the value of such things). After being “tested” to make sure we could concentrate on learning and had a musical ear, my mum, with only £200 in the bank, contacted a piano tuner to help her look for a piano for us to start learning on. After finding one and organising for it to be moved into our house and tuned, she only had about £20 left. I only found this out about a year or so ago! I have so much to be thankful for to her and my dad for supporting my bro and I back then!
My interest in cello came shortly after that when the person who would become my first teacher came to visit our primary school to show us what the cello was all about. Much like the piano, I was instantly captivated! At the time he was building his own cello too, and bought quite literally a treasure chest full of parts for his unfinished instrument to show the school. Yet again, it was a case of trying to convince my parents to let me learn and sure enough they supported me with that too. Again, I have so much thanks to them for all the support when I was so young and didn’t realise how money worked!
Q: We have had the chance to talk with other singers here on the site. MistyEntertainment, Hania, Cayler, and Jazza. At what age did you start singing? What choirs did you sing in?
A: Ah man, I used to sing Hania tracks back in the day with the piano! “Softly I Sing” is an oldschool favourite! I don’t really remember when I started singing generally (I’d definitely have been singing at school or along to CDs & tapes as a child), but I really started to focus on it when I joined my first band when I was 14. I feel like that’s when I actually started to think about how I sing and focus on improving my voice and technique.
With regards to choirs I’ve sung in, it was just the one when I was in Sixth Form College: the East Sussex Academy of Music (ESAM) Lewes Choir. It was compulsory for music students to join the choir there, but I had a lot of fun. I sang bass. On the topic of large ensembles though, I actually played a lot more in orchestras as a cellist. The Mid Sussex Strings and Youth Orchestra (and Junior Strings when I first started), the Downlands School Orchestra (at my secondary school), the ESAM Orchestra, and Hatfield College Orchestra at university.
Q: You received a guitar for your 14th birthday. Who gave it to you? Did you play guitar before receiving one for your birthday?
A: That would have been my parents again, and I’m sure my mum did most of the research to find it. The guitar was actually a joint present for me and my twin brother, but he’s since got his own acoustic and so our originally shared one has sort of become mine, following me to University and beyond. It now sits on a stand within arm’s reach of my studio chair!
I didn’t really play guitar before being given that one, no, though my dad had a left-handed acoustic in the house for a little while during my early teen years which he was planning to learn on. My bro and I fiddled on that occasionally and awkwardly before receiving our more appropriate right-handed one. Funnily enough, although my dad got rid of that left-handed guitar years ago, he still wanted to play and was planning to start after retiring, so my bro got him his first electric guitar for his birthday last year! He’s been learning slowly but surely since!
Q: You constructed your own double neck guitar at the age of 15. Why would you want to build a guitar from scratch? What was the process that came into making it? Have you made other guitars in your time? What songs have been made with this guitar?
A: At the time I started thinking about building one (2004/5), double neck guitars were very difficult to come by and even the cheapest ones would be £500+ but limiting in terms of features. The only ones I could think of were the Epiphone (£500+ at the time) and Gibson (£2000+) SG double necks, both of which only had 20 frets per neck (same as a standard acoustic) as opposed to the 21/22/24 fret standard of most electric guitars, and had “tune-o-matic” style bridges which I am not a fan of... I really wanted to be able to express myself musically and was very much into my progressive rock and metal at the time. There was no point in shelling out £500+ for a double neck I wouldn’t be happy with, so I didn’t really see much of an option. If I wanted one, I had no choice but to build it myself, and I relished the challenge!
Almost everything guitar-wise I had up until that point had been second hand because that’s all I could afford. In fact I only bought my first brand new electric guitar in 2017 (my first brand new bass would be in 2010/11). My dad was an aerospace engineer and having stopped working overseas when I started up at secondary school, our family garage was now filled with countless tools. My great uncle and a few family friends did some woodwork too, so any tools we didn’t have we were usually able to borrow. The idea of building my own guitar was something definitely inspired by Brian May of Queen, who similarly built his own “Red Special” guitar in his teen years, as well as of course my first cello teacher who was playing his own hand built instrument for much of our lessons together. I think there’s something really special about crafting your own instrument, like building your own voice from scratch. Much like vocal chords, no-one else’s will be quite the same as yours, and it becomes a unique part of your identity, both sonically and visually on stage.
I started mocking up guitar designs in MS paint of all things, splicing together pictures of various guitars and drawing in the bits that didn’t exist (like the headstock shapes), and even made a tiny 4” model out of wood. Having not been around for much of my childhood, it was an amazing bonding experience for my dad and I to build this thing together in my teen years and I think he appreciated it as much as I did. I remember getting a book on how to build an electric guitar and buying and taping together a whole load of graph paper, then sitting on the wooden dining room floor designing this thing from scratch, marking measurements, drawing circuit diagrams for the electronics to get all the tones I could possibly want, then when that was done, making thick cardboard templates as a proof of concept. Once I was 100% sure where I wanted to go with it, we started researching where to get the wood, electronic parts, etc... I remember us driving to collect what would become the body wood and it being so big and heavy I could barely lift it! The $ to £ rate was pretty good at the time so we ordered most of the electronics and hardware from the US. I dread to think how expensive it would be to build another one today!
The whole thing took about a year to build, and it was finished a little before my 16th birthday. Long summer days and weekends routing, sawing, sanding, soldering, and drilling (including accidentally into my dad’s hand...), but it was an incredible journey! The whole thing cost just over £1000 by the end of it, a bit more than expected, and I had to work at the local Tesco every Saturday until summer 2007 as soon as I could get a job to pay my dad back for it (I still have the IOU spreadsheets!), but it was totally worth it! That guitar has seen me through some great gigs and recordings, even after snapping the whammy bar and having to replace one of the bridges, replacing a set of tuning heads, and worst of all having to steam the glue of one of the necks apart to replace a broken truss rod! It’s still going strong (touch wood) and currently lives right next to me in the studio even closer than my first acoustic!
Sadly, I’ve not made any other guitars in my time, though I’ve built a handful of effects pedals, and modded plenty of instruments for other people as a side job as well as a couple of my own. It’s always great fun! Lots of stuff I have has been customised like that, buying what I can afford and then improving it to the best of my ability for my own needs. Effects pedals, synths, guitars, it’s nice to be able to make things really your own if you feel they need improvement.
In terms of songs with my double neck “Satin-X” on them, I’ve been using it on recordings since my first band Crow’s Wing’s stuff, all the way to my most recent album as Better Than The Book “Hopes and Dreams”. It’s one of my workhorse studio guitars since it’s so versatile, though it’s pretty heavy so there’s been many long recording sessions that have given me a dead leg! The Satin-X double neck was heavily featured on Better Than The Book’s “Two Years On” and “Hopes and Dreams” albums, almost on every track. You can hear the 12-string side especially for the solos on “The Bigger Picture”, “(The Travelling To See Eva Song)”, “You’ve Got A Lot To Say” and “Hopes and Dreams”. Most recently, the Satin-X was featured on my new side project Jabun [Alternate Reality]’s debut track, a metalcore cover of Kesha’s Warrior. I think it was the sole guitar on that song apart from for the guitar solo.
Q: When and how did the band Crow's Wing form? What were your rolls in it?
A: Crow’s Wing would have formed shortly after getting that acoustic on my 14th birthday (spring 2004). My friends were getting into music too and a few of them had started learning instruments so we’d commandeer music practice rooms after school and jam. Originally 6 of us, myself and my brother Eamon on guitar, Sam on Bass, Andy on Drums, James on guitar and Kevin on keyboards, a few weeks of jamming sorted who was really interested in playing and shortly afterward it was just the 4 of us: myself, Eamon, Sam and Andy.
Back then Eamon and I didn’t have electric guitars of our own, heck we had just one acoustic to share between us! There were these 2 beat-up electro-acoustic guitars with maybe 2 or 3 strings each at school and so Eamon and I would bring packets of strings with us and string these things up every week whenever we had a practice session for MONTHS, taking them off at the end of each rehearsal! We started by playing covers of rock songs we liked, the first being Paranoid by Black Sabbath, then Crazy Nights by KISS and Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult, before moving onto more challenging things like Iron Maiden when we could actually play well enough. I brought my first electric guitar from eBay in September that year, £112 for a beat-up Yamaha Pacifica 112, a little Marshall 15 watt combo amp and a guitar stand, cable and tuner, and my mum drove me an hour away to a McDonalds car park in Chichester to pick it up (thanks again Ma)! By this point the 4 of us in Crow’s Wing were practicing around each other’s houses over the weekends and after school regularly, but it was still just the acoustic guitar shared between my brother and I. Eamon was playing most of the lead parts and solos, and I was mainly focussing on chords and lead vocals. When we came to our first practice with my new electric, I was so excited, but then realised Eamon would need to be heard more than me... Disappointed as I was, I sucked in my pride, picked up the acoustic, and he played my new instrument instead. It was a strange moment, but we sounded a whole lot better for it. Eamon picked up his own electric guitar from eBay shortly afterwards, and the fully functioning formation of the band was complete! I’m sure we decided on the name by putting papers in a hat and drawing one out at random. I remember putting in the name “Tinned Piranha”, but I’m happy with the name which got picked!
Crow’s Wing would continue until 2008 when we headed our separate ways for university, with a slow fadeout during our Sixth Form years as we were in different colleges. At the start, I was lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, but by the time we stopped regularly jamming, I was sharing some lead guitar roles with my brother, playing keyboards (organ, piano and some synths) occasionally, as well as playing (Sam’s) bass whenever we jammed “Feel Good Inc.” by Gorillaz! I’d also somehow become our main sound engineer and producer when it came to recording our music, though the song writing was an “each person writes their own song and presents it to the band” kind of situation. My recordings with Crow’s Wing would be my first, and we ended up with 4 tracks by the end of it. It was an amazing early learning experience and my gateway to music production and recording.
Q: When and how did you become a member of Lupus Atrum? What can you tell us about the song Face the Omega?
A: So this is a bit of a strange one. In my first year of Sixth Form (2006/7) I spent most of my time in the music department hanging out with the other musicians. I think it was Thursday lunchtimes where I’d have my guitar in, and a couple of my friends were free, so we’d jam in the drum room. Ali was on drums, Alice was on bass, and I was on guitar. We’d jam anything, but usually something simple we could pass a solo around on, a blues, occasionally some simple reggae or ska or something like that (some foreshadowing there). We’d even swap instruments occasionally for the heck of it.
Anyway, a few months into this, Ali finds out there’s a battle of the bands on and says he needs a lead vocalist / guitarist for it, so I said “sure thing”. He’d gathered a few people for it: a music tech student called Nathan who was amazing at guitar and could do super high vocal harmonies effortlessly, Jack from my friendship group who was a bassist, then there was me on lead vocals and guitar, and Ali on drums. Everyone did harmony vocals in that band, and the genre was: power metal! Strangely, I kind of didn’t feel like a proper member of the band despite being part of its founding. For me I was just doing Ali a solid so we could compete in the competition, and it was really more him and Nathan’s project at the core. They chose the songs to cover and did the bulk of the writing (Ali’s lyrics mostly I think), and Nathan acted as recording engineer and producer when we did any recording. They were phenomenal musicians and it was great fun playing with them though there was definitely a different power balance compared to my days in Crow’s Wing. My whole stint with them was probably less than 2 months and I was really just there to compete in the competition. Highest judge votes in the finals, though I can’t remember whether we placed 2nd or 3rd overall. Unfortunately, the BOTB finals were the same day as my younger friends’ secondary school prom, so we didn’t have much of our fan base there for the finals either. I left after that little mission was accomplished and we’d finished our recordings. Funnily enough I did actually see Lupus Atrum in concert the summer afterwards, with a different Nick on guitar, and Sam (the bassist of Crow’s Wing) on lead vocals! They were great too!
Face The Omega was the only song we wrote and recorded while I was there which had lyrics. We had another called Point of Impact, but that was an instrumental. I’m sure Ali wrote the lyrics to this one, and apart from performance, I wasn’t involved with the technical aspects of the music production or the writing (unlike in Crow’s Wing). Nathan handled the engineering and production. We actually had 2 versions of this song and the vocal melody was slightly different when I performed the song live. There wasn’t much time between being given the words and learning the song and going on stage so it was very much performed as best I could at the time. Usually when I would record, I’d also take the time to properly write guitar solos, but for this track, it was a bit of a rush, and so they were all improvised. I think we recorded all my parts in an afternoon at Nathan’s parents’ house, and as such I’m not quite happy with my solos on this recording. I’m sure the ones I did live were better, but it’s a nostalgic snapshot of a very specific time in my life! You can see my double neck in that video too, as well as that later gig after I’d left where Sam’s on the mic! Good times!
Q: You are a musician that wears many hats when in music. From guitar player, to vocalist, and lyricist. What is your process for juggling all of these? What advice do you have to give to those who are looking to do it all?
A: I think the notion of doing it all is a bit of a misconception. It’s more of an illusion than anything, at least I feel that way when it comes to my own hats. In reality, I feel like my skill set is wide-spread but not really as deep as it could be compared to someone who specialised in one specific thing. It’s like life is an RPG and time becomes the experience points you can use to level up each of your abilities. Some people would put all their time into boosting their bass guitar playing stat for example so that they could play any genre under the sun, learn pieces super quickly and improvise comfortably on any scale. Comparatively, my bass playing is narrowly specialised. I live and breathe ska and punk bass styles, but put some soul or jazz in front of me I’d have no idea what to do! It’s similar for my guitar playing, and lyrics I find very challenging to write because I don’t put the time in regularly to nurture that skill, it’s more that I brute force my way through with it whenever I do need to write lyrics and it takes me ages! On the other hand, I’m consciously and constantly trying to develop my music production skills, really pushing and challenging myself as much as I can, and after years of almost daily practice, it comes quite naturally to me now, though of course there’s still much to learn and improve on.
Juggling lots of things might seem daunting too but for me I feel like it’s a strength. When you’re focussed on developing one thing for a long time it can go one of two ways: either you’ll keep getting better at it constantly, or you’ll start to stagnate and hit a roadblock where you’re not sure where to go and how to improve. That’s when juggling things has become really useful to me. If I feel like I’m stuck at how to progress more as a guitarist, I’ll switch over to focussing on bass, or vocals, or keys, and I’m on a roll again! It’s a big reason I have 2 main writing projects, Jabun and Better Than The Book. When one big album project is finished, I’m often exhausted and it takes a while for the writing ideas to flow again for that style, so I’ll just switch over to the other project and it’ll be a change of pace and scenery. I don’t think I could write BTTB albums back to back every year, but alternating projects (and even doing collaborative ones in between) keeps me energised for both!
It’s all about what you really want to do too, and there’s definitely an element of compromise to it all. There’s simply not enough time to max out all of your skill stats. For some people, being the best at one thing is the goal, and that could be true if for example you’re a musician in a function band where you need to know 200+ cover songs and be able to quickly learn more each week. For others the compromise of doing well with a small section of lots of things is worth it for their own purposes, and that’s what works well for me. In that case, it’s about switching off from the things you don’t need to work on to prioritise and maintain the areas you do.
Much like practicing anything too, the more you juggle things (correctly) the better you’ll get at doing it. Try to start small and add to it gradually. I had a great head start learning both piano and cello at a young age, but I’m positive anyone can pick it up with the right strategies; it’s just like learning multiple subjects at school. Start with jugging just 2 things which synergise. Perhaps vocals and guitar, or recording and mixing, or even writing lyrics and singing. When you’re comfortable with those, add something else, and so on. For me, learning guitar wasn’t so hard because I already had the finger strength and basic string instrument principles from cello, and from guitar, it was much easier to pick up learning the bass, etc... It’s about finding a natural strategy to practice those skills, and balancing the time to develop and maintain them as necessary.
Q: You went to Durham University and graduated with a Masters Degree in Physics and Mathematics. Why not pursue a music degree? Was this a fallback plan or something to cover bills while in pursuit of your music?
A: I always felt like a career in physics or the sciences was something expected of me from a young age, and I enjoyed studying those subjects so I thought that’d be the best thing for me to continue with at university. Of course there was the whole “physics graduates on average make blah blah money” propaganda that was fed to everyone by the schools and universities so I’m sure that had an influence too, but on the whole, it was something I was good at and wanted to know more about at the time, and I didn’t think I’d be able to study them to the level I wanted to as simply a part-time / casual interest.
For my A levels, I took maths, physics, chemistry and music (and a pre-professional music performance course), and by the time I had to choose what I wanted to study at university, I was content with the composition techniques and music history I’d learned and wasn’t really interested in formally studying music further. There was also an aspect of chasing grades to musical instrument learning too. You had to have a grade 8 in an instrument to be accepted into most university courses, following strict rules on what you had to / could learn, effectively to jump through hoops and tick boxes to meet standardised requirements. Once I’d decided that I didn’t want to study music further in a formal setting, that freed me up to learn whatever I actually wanted to on the piano and cello, rather than the limited set of pieces and techniques you needed to pass to get to university. It was liberating!
There was also the aspect of what I wanted to do in the future which at the time I wasn’t sure. Realistically, I didn’t see myself as going into a music career as a performer or academic, it just seemed too distant a goal for me, and I didn’t feel additional qualifications would help me either. That freed up my musical energy to focus on things I really wanted to learn for myself, like music production and exploring more experimental techniques and less “academic” genres. Music had been a huge part of my life for almost as long as I can remember, so I put all my free time into my own musical self-exploration outside the confines of academia. Physics and maths on the other hand was a blast to study! Very little essay writing and in a nut-shell it was all about solving (often very difficult) puzzles and problems rather than learning facts. It was more about seeing the world from a different angle and gaining / developing the skills to apply that to other areas of life rather than just the narrow scope of science. It was hard work but often fun!
When I finally graduated in 2012, I took that summer to apply the skills I’d learned to record my first original tracks as Jabun as well as Better Than The Book’s debut EP One Small Step, and it was a super fun adventure. Meanwhile I was starting to apply for physics / science related jobs not because I wanted to, but more just because it was expected of me, and I didn’t enjoy any of it. I was applying for all these things that felt alien to me just because of the salary and because it was what I was told I should do. I didn’t get any interviews, just in my mind the dissatisfaction of lots of time wasted chasing someone else’s dreams for me. On the other hand, I started actually making money from my own music, and by 2013 people weren’t just asking to work with me, but also giving me money to do so, for music and for audio work on animations. I figured why waste my time pursuing something that I don’t enjoy and that’s going nowhere when I’m finally having a blast doing something I love and being paid for it! Somehow, my casual hobby had become my source of income, and my plan A of physics (really other people’s plan for me) had become a tentative plan B. I figured I’d just drop the plan B! I was in a lucky position where I could put all my energy into nurturing my own music / audio production business, so I stopped everything else and just focussed on that, and I’m still doing it today! There didn’t seem like there was any point in having a plan B, it’d just take away from the plan A!
Now that’s not to say that the decision hasn’t made for a bumpy ride, but it’s a road that’s been true to myself and that’s been incredibly rewarding! Sure, I’m certain my bank account would be a lot happier if I’d have given up on music and kept looking for physics jobs, but even with all the headaches and occasional financial uncertainty, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing now, even 8 years later, and I’ll be continuing down this path for as long as I can!
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holy cannoli, this was quite the read! So much background behind the legend that is Jabun! Fantastic interview :D
@larrynachos Thanks so much for the kind words :)
Was not expecting this at all today! :D What a treat!
Hearing that Newgrounds was THE place to upload music to back in the day, hmm! I thought we were always a bit off the radar when it came to music in particular, but maybe I've just not been involved with the particular groups that tend to involve themselves with that kind of stuff. Explains how audio content has kept growing all this time, even through from an insider perspective - from a place within the wide community of NG itself - the audio section has always felt a bit distanced from the other sections, which often intertwine in the guise of collaboration, and feedback between both audience and artist. With audio it feels like more like everything's there mainly for the audio. It's a slightly bridged but still not entirely site-wide grouping.
Maybe there's a historical divide in how the audio portal was first created mainly as a resource for animation, and that stigma's stayed on with both how it's presented and how us veterans perceive the place... but it also really has evolved into it's own world a bit, and the two fractions of the grounds never truly came together between these two so very near but distant communities... or maybe it's that audio's a difficult format to fully appreciate the technicalities of, and so the more visual formats still garner a different, larger, yet sometimes less involved audience...
Turned into unexpectedly contemplative historical NG rant unrelated to said interview! Sorry 'bout that! Random more relevant impressions follow...
That piano story's amazing too. What a great mom... and ouch regarding the drilling into your dad's hand bit. XD
Interesting how similar the BOTB and BTTB acronym turned out...
And regarding juggling so many skills: if you just pour enough time into a multitude of them then maybe you really can master all after all. :) Seems like you are, and it seems like there do exist artists who are just so incredibly talented/well-trained with not just all aspects of their performance but production too. Prince comes to mind, Dr. Dre maybe, Andrew Huang. What they seem to have in common, apart from having been born with already enviable built-in musicality, is that they all seem to be/have been both insanely prolific AND passionate about what they do. Time pays off when used wisely!
Of course there's an endless set of hobbies you could be picking up and never becoming more than sub-par at, but when all of these aforementioned skills are under the particular branch of music... maybe not impossible. :) Everything's somewhat intertwined as well.
It's awesome you still stay humble @jabun, and spread so much appreciation in the depiction of that journey above too!
Inspiring deep-dive; great interview so far! Onto part two...
@Cyberdevil Hehe! Happy you’re enjoying it so far!
Perhaps NG was just the place to be for my own local community (in terms of music uploads). I can really only think of NG and MySpace at the time to upload things and it was a big deal with my friends and school peers to have music up on there. I understand your sentiments though; I do feel like the audio portal is more an add-on to the main animations and games side of NG. I agree with your thoughts on audio being more difficult to fully appreciate too (from a technical point of view). Hehe! No worries about contemplations! Interesting to hear your perspectives on such things :D
It really is, and is still fairly fresh to me (I only found out maybe last year)? The drilling into my dad’s hand story was silliness on his part to be honest! We were drilling a hole to link 2 of the electronics cavities which was at a difficult angle and we couldn’t afford to go too far in case we made a hole into the NEXT section. I had the drill and asked him “how will I know when to stop”, and I clearly remember him saying “I’ll let you know when to stop”, and he sure did let me know XD I’ve no idea why he did it that way and didn’t even mention he had his hand on the other side until the drill was in it, there must’ve been an easier way XD (He’s fine though)!
Oh yeah! I hadn’t noticed the BOTB / BTTB similarity!
As you say I still think it’s a compromise of sorts, but time sure does pay off when used effectively. Mastering “it all” depends on what your “all” is. If it’s just music production then it’s possible, but maybe not having an absolute knowledge of all music genres and instruments under the sun. I still think in the grand scheme of things, even the great multi-hatters are fairly specialised within their field. I think the important word is “their” performance and production. They cover all the bases they need to cover in their own creative subset, which gives the illusion doing it all. It’s about playing and supporting their strengths. There is only so much time to do things though and it takes time to build up those strengths (and maintain them), so it’s about using that time the best you can. Passion with what you do is definitely a must though!
Too true too! It’ll be quite the accomplishment to be winning Grammys, Olympic Golds, Oscars and Nobel prizes all at the same time, but yes gaining all the skills needed for a specific subset of music I’m sure is comparably doable XD
Cheers CD! Gotta give thanks when it’s due and I’ve certainly been very lucky to have the support people have given me over the years, including yours! :)
Enjoy Part 2 and beyond and thanks for checking it out :D
Wish we had had some local groups communities like that over here too. :) Maybe we do now. I was always an anomaly when it came to this place. Tried bringing in buddies in school but they'd rather be with the giants, just maybe not the same creative drive I suppose... those who dabbled with film were of course more suited for YT too...
As for other alternatives at the time there were a BUNCH of them, but none this big, granted. :) I signed up to a bundle of similar sites at the time, and submitted my early beats in parallel, but they all lived unfortunately short lives. Places like Zellomesh and eh... well maybe that was the only one that actually also supported audio...
Otherwise there was Smosh, Retrogade, Musty Windows, Lava Grounds, Flipsided, Flash Graphique, Flash Portal, Albino Blacksheep and other niche communities, countless stick-based communities, probably plenty I never explored. Indeed most probably focused on art or animation though. Radiogrounds was pretty cool too but that's a different thing...
MySpace was definitely huge. To think this place once rivaled it in that! :) Both run by Toms too. These places have strangely much in common, but took so different roads. MySpace blew up, but didn't really keep with the times and now they're but a shadow of their former self. Meanwhile NG's continually adapted and struggled on with an inspiring resilience; though we never really reached the same level of acclaim maybe our times coming too. We didn't grow up too fast. Stayed humble and adaptable. We're ready. :P
Must've been a pretty special moment for something like that to get brought up. :) And lmao again about the drilling bit, that would've been a great bit in the interview too! XD Guess maybe he thought the transition between wood and hand wouldn't be all that sudden...
Thought of asking if the BTTB similarity was intentional, but seemed like it probably wouldn't be. :) Pretty cool though. Easier to notice with both in the same context like this!
Right, mastering 'music' might be a bit too wide a scope after all, but whatever particular styles or teachings it is you focus on. :) Mastering the ability to hit the right notes, or hear the right notes, stuff like that feels somewhat like foundations of it all though... but maybe the more you learn the more humbled you become; there's really so much to it that I'm not even aware of. With instruments, in a way if you learn to play one stringed instrument you basically learn them all no? The similarities that carry across. I imagine a lot of knowledge is so much wider than the scope it might initially be applied to that way, whatever field your in. Like if you only learn the right things, then each of those things expands to fill an even vaster area of knowledge you didn't expect to pick up at the same time. Like it's really an RPG/arcade hybrid, and these stats you collect have multipliers that just keep increasing the more you gain. ;) My old motto did use to be that life is all a game!
Anyway we definitely do agree here. Choices make a difference but it's still all a compromise, and whatever you learn shapes and makes you who you are. You're an embodiment of what you've learned, and that comes across in anything you choose to do. Style = sum of learning and preference as to what's most important to learn. To some extent...
Ditto. :) Even when you have the potential to collab with so much greater artists in the lines and lots I really do appreciate you taking the time to add some shine to these occasional rhymes we swap! Been a blast to follow the journey too!
Alright, finally time to read the rest of this interview...
@Cyberdevil Maybe it’s just a case of finding them I guess (The communities I mean) :) +1 to the film sentiments, though I don’t think YT was that big if around at all when I first started here... I hadn’t heard of Zellomesh at all. I honestly can’t remember any other places where people could share music in such a way at the time XD (2005-7). I do remember Albino Blacksheep for animations! That was another favourite among my peers for Flash based things
Just for the music upload element I think. Hehe, you’re right about the Tom connection too XD Too true with regards the sentiments. NG is what it is in the best possibly way, while MySpace has really been replaced multiple times eventually leading to Facebook in the mainstream. I don’t think there’s ever been something quite like Newgrounds. It’s its own special place (which is another reason why I love it!)
I think we were going through past memories and stuff and the story came up. Funny you should say that about “the transition between wood and hand”. That’s pretty much exactly what my dad said at the time! XD
Nah, just a coincidence :)
Yup, that’s my take on it anyway! I think there’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to learning. There’s that saying: The novice seems to know it all, while the master knows how little s/he knows (something like that)? Reminds me of an Eminem lyric “are you bozos smart enough to feel stupid”! I think there’s definitely a common set of fundamentals when it comes to music (genres, production, writing), though beyond that, things start to widely diversify. Same can be said for stringed instruments btw. Take guitar vs cello for example; both instruments use the same physical method to create a sound: The vibration of a string, and so both require finger strength, a sense of coordination between the hands and a geographical sense of the fingerboard to control the pitch. On one hand though, the guitar can be focused on chordal work while the cello often focuses on single note playing. One has frets (guitar), the other has none, and so requires a greater attention to pitch and intonation. As such the methods of vibrato are different, as of course plectrum and bow technique as well as even the way each instrument is plucked with the fingers (due to the different holding positions) is quite different too.
Even taking more similar instruments such as the guitar and bass guitar, while at first glance they appear very similar, the playing technique is often very different due to the roles they each fill in the ensemble. Chords and lead parts vs a bassline. You can often tell when someone is playing a bass like a regular guitar and vice versa (and where it might be (in)appropriate in specific settings). Of course the fundamentals of controlling the instrument are similar, but the ways in which they’re used lead towards different techniques from a physical point of view as well as musical composition point of view.
Of course with mixing and mastering, there are tonnes of fundamentals which carry across genres smoothly. A lot of it is as technical in nature as it is artistic and the technical fundamentals are based in sound/audio physics, which don’t tend to change XD Of course expanding into different genres and styles means having to learn some extra tricks (like how to mix amped electric guitars vs synths for instance), and these all help to reinforce those fundamentals too. It’s a feedback loop of sorts. Definitely loving the game analogies :D
Hehe, I could talk about this all day! +1 to the sentiments :)
No worries! I love being a part of it too! Always great to make some music, and thanks again!
For sure, there must've been some here too, but since the audience is mainly English I assume it's always been way bigger in the US/UK than surrounding countries. We've always had more local community sites like Hamsterpaj and Lunarstorm, pretty big competition to places like this or even Facebook back in the day. Not so much now though. Btw, with the circles you were in, are there any other artists you know personally that have been submitting music here all the while you have? Or signed up around the same time and at least did back then?
True, YT took a while to get where it is now, in fact it didn't even exist when I signed up here. Wonder what kind of film-based place all my buddies gravitated to instead hmm... Zellomesh was around till at least the 2010's btw, but never grew that big. Twas one of the last real 'clones' of this place still in circulation. :) Flashportal.com is still up but is mainly a splash page now, used to be a full-fledged portal where you could upload anything too. Nice, probably did both stumble upon plenty of sites like that back in the day too! SomethingAwful, Ebaumsworld, Homestarrunner, TheWeebl...
Share those sentiments! Feels like with time maybe NG is really starting to get the recognition it deserves too. As one of the pioneers, as one who's started, inspired and boosted so many creative careers, now as one of the few true preservers of the entire Flash dynasty...
lmao! XD This just gets better and better... nice about the memory moment too...
So true, if you really learn then you keep getting humbled by experience. :) But there seem to be those who still feel like they know it all no matter what stage they're at, strange how that works... maybe they just never fully leave the novice level; grow to fathom what levels lie beyond it... somewhat surprised Eminem's said something that wise. XD Though he certainly applies a different kind of image to himself than his lyrics reveal... sometimes forget how inspiring work he's done along the way. Mmm, interesting comparison between instruments, gaps and bridges indeed... seems a bit similar to say tennis and table tennis. Similar co-ordination; different physics entirely; as such entirely different muscle feedback required to do the same thing with either.
That's that required passion shining through!
And again! And maybe now finally off to that second part...
@Cyberdevil Ah that’s true about the potential language barrier. Makes sense. I’m sure there were a few local artists too making mainly electronic music but most of the local people I knew were more consumers than creators on NG. I can’t recall any specific names from back then unfortunately... no one I know personally who’s still doing it certainly (even in the last decade).
Yup! Oh I do recall Ebaumsworld and of course Weeblsstuff! Spend a fair amount of time on the latter :D Hopefully as you say NG starts building up a bigger rep too, and I’m sure the ball is already rolling for that! You hear the name quoted a lot from creators who’ve made it big in the online community in recent years!
I guess it’s not easy to know what you don’t know, so there’s often that illusion of knowing it all, while maturity says that there must always be something more? Hehe, I think that line was from the MMLP2! Definitely a wordsmith that guy! OOO! That’s exactly the type of comparison I was going for with stringed instruments vs racket sports! Perfect analogy (as far as my knowledge of racket sports goes) :D
Hehe! Can’t stop it it seems XD
Until the next one!
@Jabun Mmm that's unfortunate. Gotta go on a quest to find NG artists in close local vicinity some time...
Hope you also remember Ebaumsworld with the infamy it brought with it. ;) Indeed, though the ball was rolling uphill for a while but... seems to be going the right way now. :) Yupp, all that initial work seems to be paying off now that the generations who grew up here make a name for themselves too; spread the word! Exciting to picture the recognition for this place just exponentially expanding overtime as more and more people do. Those old stigmas (adult content for one) that had people not talking about this place before don't seem to be in the way any longer either. All the more of an audience who cares about the artistic freedom and integrity this place caters to, freedom of expression and form no matter what!!!
Mmm maybe that's it... the quality of perception not always developed as much as the advancement of knowledge? All these things are things to master too after all. Ironic that you just can't be boastful about mastering humility, more so less so the more you do. :) From Berserk on it, yes, had to Google since I didn't instantly place it! And nice! :D You don't play a lot of racket sports though? Those are my favorites! Dad always wanted to be a professional tennis player so there may be some traces of interest there...
With sufficient guitar mastery I imagine you might do well with required racket sport co-ordination too. ;)
Until that simple next step that never seems to be taken!!!
I don’t remember much about it no (Ebaumsworld infamy)... I definitely remember the stigma on NG with regards lack of censorship and adult content but I really think that’s become one of its strengths compared to the now broken censorship rules on YouTube for instance. “Animal cruelty; fine by YT, but make a Spongebob parody animation and that’s going TOO far!” I think NG has at least got its priorities straight with regards that sort of thing! Artistic freedom (within reason) and the safety of its community, rather than what’ll feed the money making algorithms and appeases the advertisers!
You know, an artist pal I know once told me of a similar phenomena where when drawing/painting etc... you go through stages of improving your actual drawing vs your analysis of drawing and I think the same could be applied to most creative and learning things (listening vs making sound). There’s times where you feel like you’re getting better while your analysis hasn’t caught up, and there’s times when you feel like you’re getting worse, but really you’re saying the same, but your analysis is learning faster so you perceive your work as less good. It’s a good phenomenon to know about and help you stay motivated even when you don’t feel like you’re progressing (when really you’re just progressing in a different way) :) Too true about humility! Funny little paradox there XD Ah yes, that’s the track! I go through phases of playing racket sports depending on if I have someone to play with / against. Very much enjoy badminton and table tennis (the ones which require less arm strength)! Nice to hear about your own family sporting history :D I’d say it’s a toss-up between those and bat & field games (like rounders or something) for me. Always enjoyed those at school!
Hehe maybe XD I think my strength is more in my fingers than my arms though!
No rush XD
The Ebaumsworld infamy had to do with them stealing content from other places, among those other places NG. :) We had a bit of a feud at the time, but things have calmed down since, as I suppose copyright also started to be enforced across sites and they had to deal with those consequences too... though maybe they just started focusing on different forms of content... always was a fan of their layout though! Layouts are one of those things i remember so fondly about the early net, when accessibility standards weren't a thing each individual community was a work of art just in appearance! Anyay, getting side-tracked... totally agree. :) Though for a while it seemed like NG was ashamed of that artistic freedom in regard to certain art types it really seems like we've embraced it now; are all the stronger for it. The giants, however, I'm surprised they don't notice what consequences their strange regulations are having on the userbase, but I guess they're just so big at this point that it's hard to hear things the same...
Hmmm, that makes sense, though sounds so strange you'd be able to perceive things as worse than they really are, or vice versa... though of course, you're not then, just advancing with different speed in each individual field... good to know about for sure. And confusing to really cater to. XD How do you know now if your work really is bad or if your judgement is just that much better...
Then there's that thing about how as an artist it seems you always second guess everything regardless
Could maybe play some table tennis with wrist weights to prepare for the other ones. :P Mmm I probably would too if I really got into them, but so far the main racket's rackets! Hehe, good sport for musicality then. :)
Aaand I think I finally have the time to rush off to that second one now...
@Cyberdevil Ah I see... makes sense with the infamy and feuds then! Agreed that layouts have become more homogenised throughout the years too. Ergonomic maybe, but individual, not so much anymore... bit of a shame. +1 to the various art sentiments.
It is strange indeed! With regards how to judge whether you really are bad/good/getting better, that’s why having someone whose ability above you to keep you in check is really important. A mentor, a teacher, or just a peer who’s growing alongside you. Good to have honest and reliable extra perspectives to make sure you don’t fall into bad habits, or at least challenge your growth! It’s one reason why sharing your work with the world and taking in feedback is the best way to grow.
Hehe, yeah, there’s that too XD
I wonder if that’d work but sounds interesting :D *Various nods*
I see you have! See you over there :D
@Jabun For sure, though with some of the new trends I'm not sure about usability either, they oversimplify sometimes, sites optimize more for mobile and often end up having way too big images, and spacing, and text, and just becoming difficult to get an overview on with any other device... +1!
True true. And to have that you'd need to know you still have more to learn... on earlier points of perception not keeping up with confidence... for sure!
As long as you don't get any wrist injuries due to unnatural strain it most definitely would work! :P Wrist weights are great.
See you there!
@Cyberdevil Ah yeah, I know that feeling... Difficult to get a truly good compromise sometimes between mobile and desktop versions of a website. Often frustrating...
That’d be my main concern for sure. Intrigued though!
See ya :D