IMPROVIJAZZATION Nation - Issue # 84
INTERVIEW with Dazed (of the NEW MIXPOSURE)
I've played in over 65 "bands" . We will highlight a few of these bands in this (and future) issues.
CLICK the PLAY button to listen while you read - or don't, totally up to you! You can also PURCHASE these tracks, if you'd like to support our efforts; no obligation to do that, but the option is there if you'd like!
Here's another feature Zzaj Band - 2 of 'em in fact, so you can listen while you read the interview. First is "The Old Neighborhood", with Eric Wallack on guitars, Ernesto Diaz-Infante on guitars and found street sounds, & me on my trusty old Kurzweill. Both albums, as you'll hear were in the "experimental zone" to the max:
I've been a huge fan of the MIXPOSURE concept ever since it was initially put up on the web a few years ago... the NEW site is run by a gent who calls himself "DAZED"... I felt it only appropriate that we dedicate an interview to his thoughts and perceptions, since he invested the time (& $$$) to bring the site back to life. I think you'll find the following interview very informative, and we certainly appreciate "DAZED" taking the time to give us more than "fluff" for answers!
Zzaj: In the INTERVIEWS I've done previously, we've found that readers dig on reading a bit about where you came from, where you grew up & in general what's led you to where you are now... in other words a good bio sketch of your pathway(s) to the current crossroads... have AT it, please.
Dazed: First of all, I wanted to say thanks for the interview! As for growing up, I bounced around Cleveland, Cincinnati and Denver for the most part. I had several stops in between, but those were the main cities. About eight years ago my company closed its Denver location which left me scrambling to find a new job. I was offered a great position in Dallas, TX and after telling myself I would never move to Texas, I ended up there. Never say never I guess. After experiencing a Dallas summer, not to mention super summer which starts in July and lasts through September and at times October, I find myself missing seasons and cool air.
As for music, I started playing guitar around the age of 14 and have only slightly improved since then. My father sang opera and played piano so there was always music around the house growing up. I played in various bands but never got very serious about it. I ended up taking about a 6 year leave of absence from anything musical. Not sure if it was boredom or just thinking I had peaked as a musician.
After I moved to Dallas, I got the bug to play again. I still had most of my gear but sold my best electric which was a Gibson Les Paul Standard. Those that know me know how much I miss that guitar. Anyway, I decided to give Carvin a shot and ordered a Cobalt C850 Acoustic. It was about that time I started GuitaristWorks.com. It was not long after starting that site, I picked up Cakewalk's Guitar Tracks Pro. From that point on I was hooked, not to mention that the ability to record multiple tracks so that I could have as many takes and layers needed has improved my sound enormously. What most guitarists can accomplish with one guitar takes me two or three. Once this door opened, I ended up buying some microphones from Carvin and a CT6M electric. The buying never ends when you start this hobby.
Zzaj: I, for one, am exceedingly happy to see what you're doing with MIXPOSURE; not just that you got the DOMAIN, but (more importantly) that you are keeping the tradition of the original site & encouraging reviews and other interchanges between artists & fans. What are your future plans for MIX? Will it stay pretty much the same as it is now, or move in new directions over the next year or so?
Dazed:Yes getting the Mixposure domain was huge. As an internet site, you rarely if ever want to change your name. However I am a firm believer in change and growing. When we started
out as GuitaristWorks almost 5 years ago, we grew from a small no name site to having a very loyal group of people. I wanted to create a site where people could post music without fear of getting blasted because their music was not up to par on other sites. We had musicians helping musicians. The transformation some of the artists had over the years on the site was remarkable. It was just amazing being on a site that actually wanted to help each other and did not make music a competition. From GuitaristWorks we changed to iMusicScene. We did this because we had so many musicians on the site who were not guitarists and I felt limited by the GuitaristWorks name. We were not a site for guitarists only. So when we changed the name, we started to see a lot more signups and different musicians.
Zzaj: One of the things I find really neat about you running MIXPOSURE is that you're also a PLAYER... that means that (without doubt) you'll have a more intimate understanding of what players want/need in an OMD. What made you decide to do the site?
Dazed: In all honesty boredom. As I said earlier, I stopped playing music for about 6 years and decided to get back into it. I was experimenting building websites and had built one for my wife and thought it was kind of fun. So I built one for myself and it lasted about 3 months. I realized something about starting websites. If you are going to be involved in a website, make sure it is something you are passionate about. Building a site takes a lot of time and is like a job. If you do not enjoy it, it becomes stale very fast. I was a member on the Carvin forum and they reached a point where they dropped one of their forums that was like our Water Cooler. I saw an opportunity and figured a guitar site would be more fun and I could give a home to some of the Carvin guys looking for a place to chat a bit more freely. So with that we started GuitaristWorks and we were able to get some of the Carvin members to come over so it was not just my wife and I hanging out in the forum.
I think being in the IT industry as well as having a music background helps with the site. I think ultimately original thought has left the building. So whatever we think of has already been thought of or has been done by someone else. It is just a matter of taking what is out there and trying to make it better or tailoring it to your needs. Musicians want to be heard and want feedback plain and simple. This is why we have always focused on music reviews with the three sites. With GuitaristWorks all reviews were done in a forum. With iMusicscene we had each artist having their own artist page. The musician today is not just a guitarist, drummer, singer, bass or keyboard player or limited to any single instrument. Today's musician is mixing their own music, adding in drums if they do not have a live drummer not to mention everything else that goes along with producing and arranging a song. So the feedback process is huge. It is always a good idea to get another pair of ears to listen to your songs. Especially when we have professional engineers on the site that are willing to share their expertise so musicians can get the most from their music. You can then weed out the good and bad ideas or throw them all away completely. But at least you have had some feedback on your music, good or bad.
Zzaj: Running a site can (really) "get in the way" of one's music (at least that's how I sometimes feel about it). Are you still able to play/record as much and as often as you'd like?
Dazed: The simple answer is no. Between work and my wife and I raising our two young daughters there is just not enough time in the day. There is always something to do on the site as well. Luckily we have a great group of admins and moderators that help out. Without them, I would have to give up sleep. I have started looking for more collaborations these days. They are much quicker and still allow me to be creative. Eventually I hope to have the time to start cranking out music again. I have a few in the works and hopefully they will be done soon.
Zzaj: Since musicians (as a group) often tend to have large egos (as you've pointed out very effectively in your ABOUT entry), there has been a tendency for that to be a problem on OMD sites... how do you deal with that if & when it rears it's ugly head?
Dazed: We have been pretty fortunate in this area. Usually when the egos show up, we have a fairly large member base that handles the situation for us. I have always had the philosophy that the great musicians know they are great because they have people telling them how talented they are every day. If someone has to keep telling me how great they are and sell the idea to me, I have to wonder.
Zzaj: Your own music seems to be very diverse... many styles, many ideas & no lack of creative talent being displayed. That's a "good thing", but if you had to classify what you play... what label would YOU give your music? Talk a little bit about what drives you to make music, too, please.
Dazed: There are a lot of different artists on my page that I have done music with so the styles may vary. If you listen to Paradise or Desperate Man, I think you could classify those as mostly rock genre. I grew up being a huge RUSH and Sammy Hagar fan. RUSH from the musician skills and Sammy for his vocals and pure energy he delivers. If you have ever seen Sammy in concert, you will understand.
music for me is just a way to be creative. I never liked doing cover
tunes. With covers you have the constant comparison to the original song.
Besides Van Halen, how many covers have ever been as good or better than the
original? Most like elements of the cover tune but prefer the original more.
With originals you do not have to deal with the comparison issue and not
doing the solo or vocal performance justice. That is why I love
Mixposure.com. 100% original music only. You have people who do this for the
love of music and are not writing from some corporate song writing formula
to sell enough music to make a profit. Listening to these musicians inspires
me to write even more.
to be creative. I never liked doing cover tunes. With covers you have the constant comparison to the original song. Besides Van Halen, how many covers have ever been as good or better than the original? Most like elements of the cover tune but prefer the original more. With originals you do not have to deal with the comparison issue and not doing the solo or vocal performance justice. That is why I love Mixposure.com. 100% original music only. You have people who do this for the love of music and are not writing from some corporate song writing formula to sell enough music to make a profit. Listening to these musicians inspires me to write even more.
Zzaj: Have you had formal music training? Is that a key element to being able to play "well", or is the "spirit" just as important to a player?
Dazed:Formal music training would be a solid no. People send me a song and start throwing out chords at me and unless they are the basics, I am pretty much lost beyond that. I have always played by ear. That has its pros and cons. Pros because I think I probably tend to think outside of the box. Cons because when I write I think I have to work a little bit harder than someone with formal training. If anyone were to tell me that formal training is not necessary I would equate it to going to college or not. In going to college you take 4 years out of your life and obviously some expense. But in the long term, you will be much better off from a professional career perspective. Music is the same. You can either work harder in the beginning or harder in the end.
Zzaj: Going back to your ideas about MIXPOSURE, how important do you see the CHAT area being? I see that as a key component in making a "home away from home" for members, but you may view it differently. Give us your ideas on both CHAT and (if you're into it) online musical collaboration, please.
Dazed: From a site perspective, the Chat Room and Forum Shoutbox are a huge component in my eyes. It is a great way to get to know the members on the site and just have some conversation. When members start talking and find they have similar personalities, many times they decide to collaborate on a song. Many remarkable songs on the site started in the forum shoutbox or chat room. With Mix Radio, members might be introduced to members music they have never heard before. So not only are you building a fan base but you are potentially building the basis for incorporating other musicians into your music. That is huge from the online band perspective.
Zzaj: Usually we ask (something like) "who is your favorite artist", but since MIXPOSURE is now your site, I'd like to put a slightly different slant on it (& put you in the hot seat at the same time)... who are (thus farly) your favorite players/posters on MIX?
Dazed:There are too many to name and each bring something unique to the table. I like music and am even getting an appreciation from other genres that I used to not like until I have heard some Mixposure artists.
Zzaj: I view digital music as something that can bring much freedom to the art. Please give us any words of wisdom you may have for aspiring artists out there? How intensely should they pursue the craft if they're only viewing it as a "hobby"? Is a "career" in music worth the time & expenditure?
Dazed: One man's hobby is another man's obsession. With a high speed internet connection and multi-track software, the home musician can now sound like a pro. When that happens, anything is possible and the hobbyist suddenly wants to do more. Especially if they get involved with an online community and start asking other musicians how they are achieving their sound. What starts off as a hobby turns into something else for most of us. Basic equipment gets upgraded and the mixes get cleaner and suddenly, you find out how much fun this can be. Especially if you start doing collaborations with other musicians. I hear songs everyday on Mixposure that blow away music i hear on the radio every day.
Is a career in music worth it? I guess that depends. If you ask anyone who is famous and made a career out of music you know their answer will be, "it was all worth the sacrifices I made." Ask the guy who was on tour for a year and thinking he was going to make it in the industry and is now painting houses or working a desk job and he would say, "it was the biggest mistake of my life." Right now signed artists are not making much money and labels are looking to see what direction to go in. If you are not a Disney Kid or an artists/band who has been around for 5-10+ years, your music career is probably a little unstable. This to me is very disheartening since musicians now have the tools to do home recordings and send professional demos into a label. Many great artists/bands never had the money to record a demo in a studio. So now it is like they have been handed the keys to the Ferarri but someone let the air out of the tires and there is no gas in it. Personally for me when it comes to time and expenditure, can you really put a price on a good time?
CALL for SUBMISSIONS!!!
ALL artists! I am very, VERY happy to announce that IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION is ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS again. I have been granted a (possibly long-term) stay of execution for my trip to Iraq. I will still be traveling all over the U.S., so new issues may be a little less timely, but (as always), we will review your materials as soon as possible after we receive them. Look at the guidelines for submission below, please:
MUSIC: All formats accepted. Snail mail to: Zzaj Productions, c/o Dick Metcalf, 95-1107 Hookupu Street, Mililani, HI 98789. The only criteria for music you submit is that it MUST HAVE high performance energy... if you submit lackluster material, it will be reviewed accordingly
POETRY: Poems are accepted for publication ONLY via e-mail (to firstname.lastname@example.org ). Poems submitted in any other fashion will NOT be published. Poetry that includes some reference to music is granted first priority for publication.
BOOKS: We will review some books; books about music are PREFERRED. We will NOT return any books submitted for review. Snail them to the address listed above for MUSIC.
DIY Announcements: We will post your (e-mailed) ad about DIY projects, regardless of genre or medium... HOWEVER, this is ONLY for INDEPENDENTS... if you are a corporation, don't even BOTHER sending stuff... it will be marked and reported as SPAM!
RETURN to Zzaj Productions MAIN page!