Tiny debris

January 27, 2015

Like pieces of leaves, dust, grass, papers, and various tiny debris that have been captured into the tumult of a wind funnel, shaped in a ball and left to dwell where it fell, my thoughts lay. The overlying feeling cradling this jumble from various provenances is good, if only with a couple of weary tones in the mix.

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New home: first impressions are so good. The great luxury of being able to relax, breathe, close the door on the world is priceless. The feeling is hopeful, excited. Only one thing causes a feeling of inexorable fate… Cigarette smoke. I could not sleep two nights ago and this morning also, my space filled with second hand smoke. I felt such despair. Tired, feeling thwarted in my own survival. I just want to breathe relatively clean air… Yet it seems the impossible request. this morning, after sleeping only 4 hours being awakened by the same choking reality, I cried. I cried because I cannot seem to escape this, anywhere, I breathe this awful poison, feel its effects, I start to cough, now my lungs are getting irritated with phlegm, my singing voice dries up and narrows… How can I escape this? I look around all my stuff now in this room and feel like running away, feel stuck, feel angry. I just want to breathe… sleep in peace. It had been OK for the first 4,5 days… why now? I dunno. I don’t know how to confront the smokers, since I’m the only one, last to come in non-smoking flat-mate. So that means I have to run away… and that defeats the purpose of paying rent. This smoke gave me headaches for the last two days… I never have headaches… I sigh, I stress.

So that shades the joy I felt. I go out, walk around, feel better, all is well actually… except when I sleep and become victim to this ghostly assailant. Anyone has a way to stop cigarette smoke from coming in? Maybe a thick carpet I could lay over the door? Plastic? Is it worth spending money trying to stop this or totally useless?

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Music. Played a solo performance last night at Atolye. Played the red guitar, enjoyed it. I had a stretch of about 3,4 songs that I really, really enjoyed. Suran Asaduryan, suprisingly showed up at the gig. Maybe you don’t remember, he is a duduk master and had invited me to join him on stage at Karakedi pretty much one year ago. He walked in, we chatted, I told him I have been imagining how I’d love for him to play on a recording with me. No problem he said. We exchanged numbers.

After the performance we communed again at Ekrem’s Atölye. I started to play one of his acoustic guitars… and couldn’t stop. The sparkling sounds rising… Jacob played a hand drum. It went on until the wee hours. I wore everyone out, I had this unstoppable energy… where that energy came from I don’t know, from the guitar, from the Tower, from the moon… I walked back up Galip Dede street guitar on my shoulder, I found it easiest to carry this monster-heavy plywood case by shifting my grasp of it: from holding in my arms, to one shoulder, to the other, to hand carrying it. I have a bit of a long way to walk. I stopped at Chillout. I had promised Ufuk I would come and say hi. While I was there a guy came in, turns out he’s some famous young Turkish actor full of attitude. He goes upstairs we keep chatting for a bit and I head home. On the street, a man coming towards me, Turkish, well dressed, says something from which I only catch the end… Bla, bla, bla, senin için…” (Bla bla bla for you). I have no idea what he said but I’m not about to ask for clarifications on a Sunday night at 4-5 AM to a stranger in Beyoğlu. Down, down, down the hill I walk, my new home is at the bottom of an incredibly steep hill. Inside, Incir meows a hello and insists on hanging out with me.

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Ekrem was talking about putting something together, musically, with my songs. Ekrem is a kind of shaman, man of the earth and stars. He gets many, many things about me. I really enjoy his energy, vision, talks. There are two songs of mine that I would like re-written in Turkish, I wrote them to translate them. One is about wild horses running on the black toprak (earth) they carry the weight of our desires… The other my political criticism of Turkey. I tell him what it’s about, he said that if a Turkish singer was to sing this he\she might be in political trouble. So maybe that one will remain in French…

There is quite a bit of interest into my music here with people from here. But so far it’s part of that ball of debris, nothing is so clear. Many say they want to do this or that, but who will stick it out? The appetite for creative ideas is always big. The desire to take the time to cook the creative loaves on the other hand is often elusive.

But maybe the biggest thought provocation was my conversation with Bariş today. I went to the Jarden Cafe and sat with him. That is his haunt. He asks many questions about my choices, wishes, activities. Then he says: “Why don’t you find festivals and tour? You have albums, videos, you can find many places to play. If I was in your shoes I would do that…”

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Yeah.. it would be, it seems, ideal. Why don’t I? Well I’m not sure. I guess my first thought is that I tried, and tried and tried again and hit the wall so many times in so many ways that I don’t believe it can work. At one point the memory alone of the repeated hard contact with the said wall alone elicits enough pain to discourage the boldest thoughts. Then maybe the lack of success is directly related with lack of something valuable to offer, hence the repetitive wall hitting: there is no taker for such material. I also told him that I am the worst sales person when it comes to me. I get shy and cannot close or even get close to any sort of deal.

“Ah you get shy… You need a manager…” Oh yeah… a manager. That too I did. From the lady in Montreal who had me fly over there and prepare all sorts of promotional materials only to fade away with a vague apology… , to the guy in Vancouver who “luuuuuved my music” and had me re-design and manufacture 1000 copies of the Alien Suite only to tell me a few fruitless months later that “I love your music but I don’t know how to sell you” to the agency in France that was going to have me tour my new French album all over France and Europe for 3 months and then dropped the ball and my project saying they didn’t have enough guaranties and left me sitting there with a fresh off the oven album that was quickly cooling, too late in the season to get anything rolling in time after the release in Canada so that album no matter its artistic worth turned out to be still born, thousands of dollars and hours and efforts into making the thing only to have it stalled in the green room with a “best Francophone album” award around its neck but never to hit the stage.

What followed this floundering was a nauseating segue. A well known Montreal promotion’s firm that was paid to provide services with Musicaction’s grant money (a Canadian music business grants agency that is the equivalent of musicians welfare in Canada. Musicaction is the French branch, the English one being FACTOR) When I approached them to get some sort of new strategy going they told me bluntly that I could basically go fuck myself, as they had spent the money on something else and there was no other money for my album project. It was beyond disconcerting… I figured that I should speak to Musicaction, certainly they would object with this blatant break of contract… but no. When I spoke to them they just scoffed at me. I was after all a very minor player in this grand game… So, two concerts and right there it was over for this album.

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And of course there are the countless: I will help you with that… I can get you a gig… I can produce you… I Should I expound more? I’m sure not, everyone gets the picture. The music business is a pretty hopeless proposition and when your project, product is slightly off the mainstream, when it starts sliding to the sides, the underground and the off the main highways, the going gets murkier and one needs everything to coalesce at the right time and place and a good serving of luck with it.

Sooooo…. all this to say what? To ponder giving it another chance? He said to me that I should Google festivals, fill in the forms and see what happens… he would do that if he was in my shoes. And I think it’s not a bad idea. The challenge being for me to not get into a been there done that mentality but to honestly throw the dice and see where they fall. Music is definitely one of the activities that (when done right) is the most uplifting thing I can do. Can I hope to uplift others with my creations? Maybe. My other option is to just be a vagabond that can play guitar and sing songs no one knows. … and that brings to mind…

a few months back, I was at Chillout, sitting outside and playing my guitar as I did countless times. It was night, many people hanging around. Many asking me to play cover songs to which requests I would smile and say no and continue playing… but this one night this one man came to me, he asked me some questions about the guitar, about me… then he asked me to play him a song. “Play me a dark song” he said and that surprised me. I went inwards, feeling there was something important to this moment. I put the question to the Universe: Which song for this man? Because of course there was no way I could refuse this request this time. The answer came: Your Vibe.

So I played. He stood before me, transfixed. I played and I knew something was going on. I gave him every note, nuance of the song. When I finished, it was like a trance that had just ended. He looked at me, and praised me and took my right hand and kissed it and put it to his forehead… a gesture of intense respect in middle eastern tradition. Then he recounted his story… his fiancee had killed herself days before their planned wedding. He had never been able to get over this… that explained to me why he wanted a dark song. I was shocked… the depth of his mourning was so profound… but my little song soothed him. I did my job that day.

Recently I sent him a message with the new song I recorded in France and this was his answer:

Remember the first time we met !? The night @ chill out That night when I heard the sound of your travel guitar ( i love that instrument of yours by the way ) it triggered my feelings & When I heard your voice, it made me cry It was a wonderful night That was when I realized that God has heard my moans & sent me a sign ! I’ve met a Angel that gave me hope & power to keep on in her own way & words !
Thank you for playing the greatest, most effective role in my life !
Don’t you ever change ! My No.1 musician !

So for this, I continue. Where should I play? In front of a hostel anywhere in the world? Or on a stage anywhere in the world? I do not know. I often wonder about the real artistic, intrinsinc value of what I create. I see so many brillant musicians. I see myself as an average player.. I have cool ideas, but technically… there are many much better players… I have something to say… but there are so many well spoken writers, better singers, voices… maybe my biggest quality is my honesty, it does come from my heart.

we will see what will shape up in the next while. I give myself two months in this new place, to see how I fare, to see if I do get productive, creative. Or if I just loop into a set of useless habits? Lets see what happens.

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One Response to “Tiny debris”

  1. Danielle Liard Says:

    My lovely friend, your biggest mistake is in trying to compare your work to that of others. Sure, there might be more technically proficient musicians, writers who make better rhymes, all of that. But the true point of music is like all the arts, it is communication. Of feelings, moods, ideas, stories, whatever. And if your songs were not worth listening to, then I would not stick all your records on my CD player and have them play non-stop sometimes. Each artist speaks to certain people and not to others. One cannot be all things to all men, and this is so very true in the arts.

    As far as the producers, agents etc, unfortunately music has become a ‘business’, with money being the main motivation for such people. We’ve talked about what this ‘industry’ is like, and you have described it quite well. Sometimes I have a hard time believing that it is like that, but I’m not in it. And having been self-employed, I know what it’s like not being good at selling oneself. Rough.

    The festivals idea sounds good to me, you are close to Europe and they have a way bigger population, so not so difficult to get an audience. Bill yourself as a wandering minstrel, which is pretty much what you are. 😉 Get into being the opening act maybe for some bigger names. You will reach those who are ready to hear you and appreciate you.

    All my love to you

    Danielle


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