solarbird: (music)

Everything is starting to come together for the CD Release Show at Conflikt; we have a big bloody lot of musicians to try to pull this thing off live, which is a good thing, because we’ll need ‘em! The performance lineup:

The sharper-eyed amongst you may note that we have all of Tricky Pixie in our band for this show. And that none of them are playing their usual roles, except for Alec, who is throwing in the same fiddle work he did on the album. I think this is hilarious and I hope you can come see it. It’s Sunday at Conflikt. (They have a show the weekend after us, and you should go see it, too.)

Also, I just finished the first draft of the print edition of Bone Walker, the novel. I’ve already found a couple of things to fix, but it’s close. STAY ON TARGET

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (korra-excited)

Aside from tampering recklessly in god’s domain, and catching up on some media, I spent mine playing with Leannan Sidhe. Thanks to everyone who turned out on such a hot night! If you’re looking for the free downloads, they’re right here. And thank you again to The Dreaming Comics and Games for having us!

Life-Size Spiderman Sold Separately
(photo Angela Korra’ti)

We also watched the new Doctor Who, which was… nowhere near as good as the 50th, but so much better than the awful Christmas Special departure for Matt Smith. I’m with Anna on Moffat’s sexism, but at least Clara’s feeling like a character again, finally. And Peter Capaldi as The Doctor is extremely strong out of the gate.

It’s not up to Legend of Korra levels though. If you bailed out during the sluggish first year, I don’t blame you – but since then, Legend of Korra became pretty awesome. The turnaround happened about halfway through year two, and year three has just been insane. Seriously, start with the run-up to “The First Avatar” and catch up from there, it’s totally worth your time.

So that’s what I did. But I digress – what’d you do this weekend?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (music)

This came up in talking about posters for this Saturday’s joint show with Leannan Sidhe at the Dreaming. (6pm, 5225 Univeristy Way NE, Seattle, hope you’ll be there.) What matters more in a poster graphic: relationship to music or dynamism?

I had came up with this poster design:


The background image is from a comic, drawn comic style, which makes sense because hi, comic book and gaming store, and we’re doing some related songs, so it all works. I think it’s quite dynamic and eye-catching, which was my primary consideration.

Shanti, quite correctly really, felt it didn’t relate to her music, and she came up with some other imagery for the background. That’s what made the official poster:

Godking Owl Has No Pity For You

It’s a good image, I like it. It is more evocative of her music. It’s also lower contrast, and less dynamic from a distance. The eyeflow is still good, but… as a designer, I think it’s less attention-grabby.

So, as someone seeing these posters, which matters more to you? A graphic that is more grabbing (but not as evocative of the music style), or one that grabs less attention (and thus makes people less likely to see it) but which is more evocative of the music on some level?

And does it matter if you already know the music or not?

I tried to fit this into a poll, but couldn’t quite get it together in my head. So I’m just asking outright, in text. Do you think relationship of poster graphic to music is more important than eye-catchiness in show posters? Would you even think about the two if you went to a show, or would you forget about it as soon as you walked in?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (ART-gonzo)

We have a joint show this weekend! It’s at The Dreaming in Seattle, two sets, some Supervillain music, some Leannan Sidhe music, a few covers, it’ll be fun and awesome. Here’s the Facebook event page for the show.

Print resolution version of the poster (which is jointly by Shanti and me) here, if you want to, oh, print things and post them places and stuff. That would be awesome.

I may have stolen the circles in the poster design from another music graphic of the past. One hint: the reddish one should be blue if you want a more obvious match. You get a zillion music geek points if you can figure out the source. :D

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (molly-content)
Shanti (fairly, I think) thought the previous background didn't fit her musical themes well, so she made another one.

solarbird: (Default)

It's not an official poster, but I stole a couple of elements, mostly Shanti's treated photos of herself, Jeri Lynn, and me.
solarbird: (montreal)

We’ve about wrapped up our Victoria adventures for this trip and will be heading up island later today; the town had been great as always, and south island will make anyone into a geologist.

I mean look at this insanity.


The Le Vent du Nord symphany show was pretty good, but way too respectable for me. The crowd pre-show particularly seemed a bit dismayed. It’s a fairly conservative programme here, with a… somewhat elderly audience, and I kept hearing things beforehand like, “well, it’ll be different,” with a bit of a “what exactly have I signed up for here?” air. That the boys managed to win that crowd over was a bit of an achievement.

Then last night I went up to Norway Hall and got my first stage time since GeekGirlCon and round one of emergency eye surgery; they’re big into singalong at the Victoria Folk Music Society, so I loaded up heavy with singalong-able choruses. They are the most sing-alongy audience i’ve ever seen, which is saying something.

(photo courtesy Anna ^_^)

Nice hall, too. Loads of fun. Thanks, VFMS!

Next: further north!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (shego-cosplay)

Henches get sashes! As is required by Guild law, of course. Well, uniforms. Sashes count.

These are of course for the GeekGirlCon ninja show, 2pm(ish) Saturday, GeekGirlCon. Not sure where they’re putting us yet, but look for it – it’ll be a show. :D

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby

solarbird: (podcast)

Virtual Comicon panels start in two minutes! URL:

Supporting material for Rocking Hall Costumes:

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (podcast)

Two Virtual ComiCon panels today! They’re listed just below. Also, Donna Barr wrote up a nice report on Clallam Bay Comicon, and I wanted to link to that. Anyway, “Rocking Hall Costuming” at 2pm Cascadian/Pacific, 5pm Eastern; “Kitting Out Cheap” the next hour, at 3pm/6pm. Deets:

Added: Rocking Hall Costuming: Join award-winning costumer tereshkova2001 as she discusses what makes a good hall costume, how to have fun in one, and how to avoid awkwardness or creepiness. Visual aids will be included! 2pm Pacific/Cascadian, 5pm Eastern, Saturday, July 20th, Supervillainy 1. tereshkova2001 (Moderator)

Added: Kitting Out Cheap: Assembling the sound kit you need for the very little money you have. Supporting materials included but not strictly required. 3pm Pacific/Cascadian, 6pm Eastern, Saturday, July 20th, Supervillainy 1. Solarbird, the Lightbringer (Moderator)

We’ll post with the final URL once we know what it is – Google+ will just kind of assign it for us once we open the livestream. See you there!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (strictly outdoors)

Thank you, Greenwood Faire, for the welcome and the fantastic first experience at a renfaire – and thanks also Leannan Sidhe for bringing me onboard for the series! And also to Zinger and Royal Magic for letting us stow equipment and showing such hospitality. And to pirates and supervillains, yet!

Fun. Exhausting, but fun. We ended up doing eight shows, not six, not counting ‘gate sets,’ which are kind of open-mic length. Since I was filling in for so many people that meant four-instrument setup/takedown per show; I got really fast at that by the end of Sunday. So the whole thing is kind of a blur of setup-play-takedown-setup-play-takedown until dark.

That didn’t stop me from staying up late Saturday night with the Tri-Cities Drum Circle, tho’. They have a facebook page but I can’t find it – if you guys come find me, give me the group name again and I’ll link you! Thanks for being so welcoming, playing with you was really cool.

High-drama weather: 3am hour-long thundersquall with continuous lightning and nearly-continuous thunder, all experienced from a tent (which, thankfully, held out the water just fine); a mid-morning reprise the next day, scattering everyone but providing a desperately-needed reprieve from the sun. The heat was pretty brutal late Sunday, but the Faire itself is extremely well situated, in a little cool pocket by the riverside, sheltering us from the worst. It’s a fantastic site for it.

Have some pictures – I have to finish unpacking.

No more than 10 minutes after that morning squall

Jousting ponies at sunset

Ponies! The chestnut in front is pretty friendly. The grey in back, despite appearances, is not an Arabian. I was totally surprised by that; I knew an Arabian who could’ve been his twin, years ago, except the one I knew had slightly more mottled/patterned fur.

Saturday night is the big performer potluck and little groups all get together and play and hang out all over the camp; after the potluck, I found the aforementioned drum circle – which wasn’t, as they say, difficult. :D

Also that night:

All Hail Roadie Matthew!

And Matthew’s golden backlit hair. Matthew’s golden backlit hair has a posse.

Leannan Sidhe Without Me

Despite best attempts, I wasn’t on every song, and when you’re not playing, you don’t stand there like a dork, you sit off to the side or front, depending. One set, I was out for two songs, and they were back-to-back, so I had time to grab my phone and snap a picture.

Bards of a Feather

Leannan Sidhe (official) gave way to Mickey and Wednesday’s band Bards of a Feather for the final set, appearing only at the end for one song. And they, in turn, let me open for them as Crime and the Forces of Evil, for one song. Shortest opening set evar! It was hilarious. :D

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (Lecturing)

Hooo, that was a lot of fun! Thanks to the Dread Captain Marcos, our guest villain last night, and Jeri Lynn Cornish, our hostage du jour, and most of all, The Cosmic Ray Show for having us all on!

The show is already archived, by the way. Click on the link above and you’ll find it. We’re the final guests, so about 15 minutes before the end of the show, if you want to skip ahead. Or if you’re into space exploration – like Curiosity Rover and all that? Watch the whole show.

I haven’t talked much about DIY day lately, but setting up for this appearance gave me a great chance to use my art degree in a set-lighting environment, and it’s led to a DIY opportunity!

Here are two pictures. One is four days ago; the other was today. The physical setup of the room is unchanged – the angle of the camera is a little different, but not that much.

Basic front lighting

Improved front lighting

According to everyone who has seen both today, the bottom shot is better; I of course agree. It has more depth to it – it’s less flat, more 3D – there’s better presence, and what you can’t see here is that performers pop off that second backdrop WAY better – there’s no fading into the background here.

What do you think the difference is? If you guessed less light, that’s not it. If you guess a lot more light, actually, that’s not it either. Total lighting amount is unchanged; no fixtures were replaced. Camera settings? Also unchanged.

Two things are different. One, I have a glare shield around the webcam. I made it with white cardstock. It keeps ambient light from the side of the camera from affecting the image, and by doing so, boosts contrast:

The 5¢ Anti-Glare Shield

The second is that I warmed the light in the foreground by putting sheets of gold paper behind the light sources, and specifically cooled the light in the background by putting sheets of blue paper behind those light sources, all off camera. The primary line-of-light is not tinted at all, but the first and brightest sets of reflected light is all warmer (in front) or cooler (in back). This also increases visual contrast.

Just as importantly, this also creates an optic architectural layer; it divides the space into two spaces, a bit, in your brain, which makes the more distance space be processed as further away in your head. This is how architectural layering works in physical objects, too; a small room can be made to feel larger by putting a divider into it, one that you can see around – say, a stub wall coming down from the ceiling, or a bar, or an archway. Your brain will see two spaces instead of one; it will treat the second as further away, making the whole stage feels larger.

And since there’s actually more light, the people in front (once there) really pop forward. Again; bright foreground, darker background, more depth.

It still doesn’t look like a huge environment, but it looks a lot less cramped, and gave the video compression software a better chance not to do horrible things. Having looked at the stream a bit, compression still did some weird things, but the result is far better than tests we ran against the original lighting setup. The lighting shift didn’t change the visual world of the shot; it improved it, in subtle but meaningful ways.

And that’s basically just 12 sheets of creatively-placed coloured paper. Lighting is fun!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

So in awesome news of awesomeness, I’ve been offered and have accepted a spot as musical guest on an upcoming live episode of The Cosmic Ray Show. The official website is here. I’m appearing with people who have actually, you know, done things – Discovery space columnist Amy Shira Teitel, Ryan Kobrick from Yuri’s Night, NASA/JPL engineer Matthew Robinson – so I need to get my shit together! XD

Does this thing have production codes? It should have production codes.

It’ll be livestreamed a few places, most notably YouTube, starting at 8pm Cascadian/Pacific, 11pm Eastern Standard, and a kind of problematic 12:30am Newfoundland (sorry! But that’s live web series for you). I’m in the closing segment.

So, tune in, if you can! And tell people. They already have a pretty good chunk of audience, but I would like to bring in a bit more.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (music)

I’ve just accepted an invitation to perform live on a web show, in two weeks – save Tuesday, March 19th, 8-9pm Cascadian/Pacific time (11-midnight Eastern) in your planners. More details soon!

ECCC this past weekend; I didn’t take photos, but did see some really awesome cosplay. My favourite was Bizzaro, a really old-school version, because who wears him? Someone who is huge and not conventionally attractive and decides to damned well own it.

Well played, sir. Well played.

I may’ve gone a bit overboard on loot

Also there were a whole fleet of Korras and every single one of them was awesome. I finally got a close-up look at Torrey’s Prince Zuko armour, and my god, the hammer work! Just lovely. She says it took her 14 hours just for the patterning; I’d've guessed longer.

Jhonen Vasquez’s standalone panel got scheduled badly, so he couldn’t talk about anything new – all that was embargoed until his publisher’s panel, a few hours later. But turns out he’s hilarious when having to wing it. Wendy and Richard Pini have a whole lot of things coming out in the very near future, only some of which they could quite talk about, but two of those are two new Wendy art books! One’s Art of Elfquest, of course, but the other is a solo non-Elfquest Wendy art book, which has been on a lot of peoples’ wish-lists for just ever.


I took a break from ECCC to record the final interview for the podcast pilot! And I’ve been editing like crazy ever since. I’m aiming for MARCH 11TH as the premiere. This will be a difficult date but I’m goin’ for it.

In between taxes and show prep and and and.

Anna has some commentary on Marvel and DC and the superhero sect with which I’m sad to say I generally agree. I have a long goddamn history with comics, and watching the core material for so much awesome stuff end up focusing more and more on being wank material? We are not amused. Fortunately, there’s a lot of other, better work out there, too.

Were you at ECCC? What’d you think?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (music)

Last call for tonight’s show! Toronto! Leslieville! Show page for details! C’mon out!

Also, a tidbit I didn’t include in Touring, parts one and two: this article on electronica shows. Notice the value here of event.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (toronto)

I’m not sure what to say when a series intended to be two parts runs over five long and some of those parts have two parts on their own. Probably, it means I must learn to write shorter posts.

To recap: the old touring model became a problem, particularly for bands, which are are expensive. We talked about the instaband/hive band model in response; go here to refresh your memory.

Of course, all that said, you still shouldn’t turn down paying old-school gigs when they pencil out. Take those! Money matters!

I’m rich! I’m wealthy! I’m comfortably well-off!

But building a career that way is much more difficult than it used to be. Concert culture is really kind of at a nadir right now. It’s not that there aren’t standalone concerts in traditional venues – of course there are! I go to some! But it’s not a thing, like it once was, and more importantly, it’s not a way to build fans like it once was.

I don’t know what killed that culture – the reputation for expense, the hassle venues and labels put you through in the 80s and 90s to prevent bootlegging1, cowardice over “terrorism” and crime – despite crime declining steadily for three decades people talk about “how bad it is” out there – or maybe it’s all this woman:

Or maybe it’s the industry again, with their crackdowns on unlicensed venues, and the cost involved in being one. I know venues around here who were shut down over licensing issues.

It could be any or all of the above, or something I haven’t even listed. Regardless, the culture is not what it used to be. I know too many musicians who have seen their incomes drop 50-70%, and too many who have just dropped out entirely, to think otherwise.

So what to do now? Where do you get started?

The first thing to talk about the house concert. These aren’t new; folk musicians have done these for a long time. But in other genres, these used to be mostly college neighbourhood excuses for drinking and party riots – if you haven’t seen the Runaways biopic, you might, there’s a good example of what they used to be in that film. Spoiler: they sucked.

Not just Kentucky

Over time, however, they’ve become civilised. There are house concert circuits, there are house concert providers who host and take care of you, and do this on a regular basis. Terms are all over the place, of course. Most don’t charge, some want a percentage of the suggested donation, but even that’s generally just to cover expenses.

So what do the hosts get out of it? They get an event, and social credit – a key currency in any post-scarcity environment. They get to be part of it; people who do this like music and care about it, and want to be a part. This is one way.

Meanwhile, you’re offering an experience they aren’t going to get in any other venue. You’re offering something that’s close and personal and right there. And at the same time, you are getting a venue and a chance to make fans.

Seriously, a crowd of 6-12 people in a living room gives you your best shot of doing the most important thing you can do starting your career: making that personal connection, becoming meaningful to somebody, and through that, re-establishing the value of purchase that we talked about way back in Part Two of this series.

I mentioned these aren’t new, right?

Start by getting people who’ve heard you on the internet to host. If you’re lucky you can get fans to do it (hi guys! ^_^ ). Even if the turnouts are tiny, you’ll need the experience and the references. Once you’ve done some of those, you might be able to get the attention of people who throw these regularly. And from there, maybe you can get onto the circuits, if that’s where you want to go.

But don’t do them if you hate them. Don’t force yourself. People will know.

Event shows are another break-in point. Anything where there’s already an event that you can join is an opportunity. You gain cred by showing that other people are interested in your art. You get a crowd already there for something; you don’t have to overcome the stay-at-home inertia.

For example, I’m a musician, but I’m also a venue – I run nwcMUSIC, a mini-music-festival under the auspices of the Norwescon science fiction convention. I don’t have a budget; I don’t pay; but like a good house concert venue, we take good care of you. You get to play in a good environment to a lot of people who are already out at an event and therefore a lot more likely to check you out, stay and talk with you later. You end up with four days of meet-and-greet. You get to do panels; hopefully, you impress people.

The Doubleclicks at nwcMUSIC 2012/Norwescon 35

See also: Sakuracon, PAX, any kind of multi-modal event that’ll draw people in on several fronts and also let you get personal with potential fans. Hell, Clallam Bay Comicon, where I was last weekend? Exactly the same thing.

Because that’s what you have to do: build that connection, and through that, re-establish the idea of value in purchase. Maybe it’ll be merch. Maybe it’ll be CDs. No matter how you count it, it’s about getting people invested in you, and therefore caring about what you do.

To do this, you have to be there, not just show up and take off. You have to be on the whole time, not just on stage. You have to be part of the event, because you’re selling not just your music, but an experience, and a bit of glamour.

If you’re doing a convention or a show and only doing the concert? You’re missing opportunities. Get onto some panels. Be lively and entertaining and prepared. No panels you care about? Propose some. Make a god damned impression.

Event plus souvenirs: genius!

People also like event souvenirs. CDs can be souvenirs. Even download codes can be merch can be souvenirs – this is why my download code slips are shiny gold tickets, and not just pieces of printer paper. People react to that. Yes, I know, you first and foremost want people to care about your music! I’m in this because I want people to hear my stuff, not because I thought, “I know! I’ll GET RICH by MAKING MUSIC!”

Because that trick always works.

But if they don’t get your CD, or your download code, they can’t listen to your downloads or CD. So stop worrying about why they bought it and just hope they do. If they like you, if they liked the experience, they’ll want the token of being there, and once they have the CD or the download code, you’ve improved your odds.

Similarly, doing a house party on a house party, or house concert tour? Don’t just play and leave; go to the party. Then build in some time between house shows where you can hang out after the party with your hosts in a relaxed and fun manner.

preferably sedated

It’s work, being “on” for hours at a time like that. It’s new and unfamiliar to many, including me. But people are doing music this way, and some are building careers, in this post-scarcity environment. It requires a gregariousness that you or someone in your band have to have, or be able to cultivate.

But it can be done. It’s one way forward from where we are now. Not the only way; but one way.

This time next week I’ll be in Toronto! I’ll be practicing some of what I’m preaching here. There will also be a Part Six of this supposedly-two-part series, which I’ll do my best to post from the road. I do want feedback and suggestions; we’re all making this up as we go along, and there is no well-trod path here. If you spot a landmark, give us a yell! Otherwise, I’ll see you on the road.

1: Which is to say, the kind of youtube video you see from phones at shows now? They used to clamp down on that so hard. Even still photos were often prohibited, and gods help you if you had a cassette recorder or microphone. People used to make special concert-taping equipment, like glasses with hidden microphones and wires that ran down your back. So crazy.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (Default)
Concert tonight! 8pm Cascadian/Pacific, Westercon 65 (Evergreen 2), Sea-Tac, Washington. Guests Leannan Sidhe and Marcus Duran, too! If you're not at the convention, it'll be livestreamed at! :D
solarbird: (music)

Had a really good tech runthrough yesterday/last night for Friday’s show, and hung out with Anna and Paul and Jenny and Leannan and K and GlaDOS before fireworks. No time for anything AT ALL right now, though, too busy getting ready for that and the rest of Westercon:

Don’t forget, Friday’s show will be webcast at! Showtime 8pm.

Meanwhile, have some cool links!


(For everyone else: it’s the handout going with a panel on getting equipment for cheap, with resource links. It’s intended to work standalone as well, so give it a look if you’re into that. I’ll also be running this for nwcMUSIC 2013 at Norwescon 36.)

I’ll bring up this article on “evolving” music at the Alien Musicology panel on Saturday.

Credit where credit is due: Texas town turns abandoned Wal*Mart into massive library. POINT TO HOUSE MCALLEN.

And finally: How was the world to end? Pre-World War II apocalypse cinema, courtesy VCON.

See you next week!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (cascadia dance dance revolution)

Will you look at this awesome thing I mean damn:

two turntables but no microphone

It’s a Gaumont Chronophone, which is an even better name than I’d've expected, because it implies that you control time through sound. Also totally not real and not a mockup unless the name is a joke by the time traveller who went to the past and built it as a gag.

I gotta know what that bad baby sounds like scratching the ragtime mix. I just gotta.

Been rehearsing for the Westercon show (Friday, July 6th, 8pm) with Leannan and Marcos; yes, for Westercon, we’ll be a three-piece. \o/ In particular, if you’re there, you’ll be the very first people ever to hear one of the new original songs for the Bone Walker soundtrack project. We went through the setlist last night, and we’re like, yeah.

Tonight, we’ll be doing a G+ hangout live, Leannan and me both from my studio so we can actually play together. I’m not sayin’ we’re doing Sad Muppet, but I am saying it is in the campaign, depending upon who else we encounter on the way.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

solarbird: (music)

Hey, everybody – I’m hip-deep in soundtrack and book and also some equipment upgrades and tour setup stuff so I’m mostly taking an internet break this week. But I’ve finished another new song for the Free Court of Seattle soundtrack! I wish you guys could hear it, it’s awesome.

Are you coming to Westercon? I’ll have an announcement once they get back to me again to confirm, but it’s pretty confirmed. ^_^

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come listen to our music!

April 2019

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