“A cloud fitted with an iron scaffold,” wrote Marc Weidenbaum of disquiet.com on hearing the opening track of my 2013 record transient lines. As Marc speaks in fractals, in describing that song, he captured my universal approach to songwriting and composing. The “cloud” creates abstractions and flights of spaced-out fancy; the “iron scaffold” anchors a love and reverence for accessible, turn the radio up songs.
In the end, you get three chords and three changes in rock ‘n roll. These are healthy constraints, and I try to make the most of them.
Soaring melodies and big hooks seduce me – but of late (you know, with ‘maturity’), dissonant architecture and quiet contemplation lend inspiration, too. So ambient, dance, shoegaze, field recordings, sound manipulations, and spoken word tracks interweave my rock and pop tracks. All this to say, I’ll try on any hat, styles of the day be damned.
“Genre” is a for marketing. I believe in style. In composition, what’s framed out often arises as more critical than what’s framed. Music, writing, photography – even grilling an asparagus: all adventures in composition.
I wrote terrible songs for a long time (and, worse, shared them with folks who never grant second first-impressions), but I kept writing through the night. Right around 2002, I wrote a few tracks that signaled I’d been learning, and listening, and evolving all along. My first official release, Windfall, came two years later in 2004.
A dozen records later, you’ll find my releases scattered across all the usual suspect platforms (Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, Soundcloud…). Hover over “Links” in the menu above to spoke out into WestyNet. My latest record is cipher /e dreams.
I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to free-form radio station WFMU and their brilliant Free Music Archive, where a few curators invited me to post my recent records a few years ago. My tracks there have garnered many thousands of spins and downloads. As a result, it’s now impossible for me to consider I write in a vacuum. Plenty of other creative meta-pitfalls to fall into, of course, but at least that one’s ruled out.
Also want to shout-out to the Disquiet Junto, into which intermittent deep dives over the last five years rejuvenated my love for sound, technology, songwriting, collaboration and, most important, listening. A little more about my experience with the Junto is here.
Time never meditates; rivers never hesitate. My home base of New York City provides endless raw material for lyrical and sonic adventures, but with determined regularity, I leave behind the city’s relentless din, high culture and low squalor – to try to find the other side of the sun, and true starry skies. I do get Orion, Polaris, Venus, Mars and even Jupiter on clear Gotham winter nights, however, so I’m not 100% disoriented and directionless if I can’t escape Brooklyn for a while.
Creativity’s blessing is to bring spirituality through expression.
Enjoy life, put faith in others only after extreme circumspection – and, most important, never lose faith in yourself.
“A cloud fitted with an iron scaffold…”
Marc Weidenbaum / disquiet.com
“A groovy intergalactic beach party…”
Josh Matthews / Blue Man Group, After School Special, The Tell
Drew Barrymore / Whip It, Grey Gardens, E.T.
“Really really fine…”
Liz Berg / WFMU
“…danceable and feelable…”
Kees de Groot / Roofhare
Kurt Anderson / Studio360, NPR
“Up my alley…”
Ellen Page / Whip It, Juno
“Soaring and atmospheric… I wish I lived in a world where PSAs sounded like this.”
Rob Walker / Unconsumption, New York Times
“So good, I just had to collaborate…”
Lee Rosevere / Happy Puppy Records, CBC
“Download the magic…”
K.L. Sealegs / CFRC
“Beautiful and imaginative tales to absorb.”
Charles Stepczyk / Insomnia Radio
Beat The Indie Drum
Fabien – 2015 Peekamoose Custom M2
Jolie – 2000 Gibson ES-335 DOT reissue
Ursula – 1985 Gibson Les Paul Studio
Uncle – 1934 Gibson L-1
Coyote – 2018 Seagull Entourage Rustic Concert Hall
Ford – 1988 Ovation Custom Balladeer
It’s ridiculous that war can be “declared” whereas peace must be “negotiated.”
Los Angeles, USA, 2012
Credit: Cat Thomas