I am a musician. And I’ve been thinking for a while about what would be interesting for you to know about me. I suppose I’ll start with the boring stuff history stuff. And maybe I’ll come up with something interesting to tell you in the process.
My first musical instrument was the Mountain Ocarina–my dad is part owner of the company that invented them, so he gave me an ocarina and a book of music when I was 9 or 10. I’ve never had formal music lessons, and when my dad gave me an ocarina, I learned the foundations of music reading from a self-teaching curriculum written for the ocarina. I became pretty proficient at the ocarina, but my interest waned.
At about 14, though, I decided I wanted to learn piano. So I got a copy of sheet music for the Entertainer by Scott Joplin, and painstakingly memorized the whole piece. After moving on to Pathetique by Beethoven, some Mozart Sonatas, and some more Joplin, I discovered that I could make stuff up. And thus I discovered the wonders of songwriting.
One day, I was sitting at the piano, composing a dark and depressing song called “Dark Illusions.” As I sat there, singing this angsty song in my terribly undeveloped singing, a thought occurred to me. Was there some way to record this song? So I stole my dad’s macbook pro, fired up garageband, and recorded the song then and there with the built in mic on the macbook. After I finished, I decided some strings in the background would be nice. And I discovered the wonders of reverb. After this, it was a quick spiral down as I picked up other instruments to add to my simple piano compositions and wavery singing.
So there you have a few facts of history. Now on to the philosophizing. And I’m going to try not to make it unbearably cliche and buzz-wordy… but, I may be hard pressed on this front. So bear with me.
People always ask me what genre my music is–and I’m always hard pressed to categorize it. I suppose that probably many musicians would snootishly say or think that their music is ‘unique’ and ‘uncategorizable’ and yet… one of the things I enjoy most in composing is trying different things.
*later insert from current post*
In the past number of years since my last album (4 1/2 ish I think by now?) I’ve broadened my listening horizons significantly, and it’s showing in my composition. I’ve decided that when people ask me what genre of music I write from now on I’m going to say Experimental Pop. I came up with the term myself, but upon writing it here I checked wikipedia and lo and behold, there’s an article on experimental pop. After skimming it just now it actually sounds exactly how I was thinking of the term. What do you know, I discovered the genre of my music while writing a blog post about it. The reason I coined the (apparently) unoriginal term experimental pop is because my music at it’s core is indeed pop music. By pop music I don’t mean radio music — I use the term a bit more precisely and broadly to mean popular music in general, which would include much rock, radio music, rap, contemporary folk, certain electronic music, etc. Though I’m currently trying to move into the complex and intricate, my music has always been more or less simple and melodic. I’ve always tried to push my boundaries when it comes to drawing musical ideas from different genres, and that’s where the experimental part comes into my music. It’s highly experimental in that I’m always listening to different types of music and trying to bring their stylistic devices into my own composition.
(sidenote: So, while writing this I’m listening to some of the artists listed on the wikipedia page for experimental pop, and I’m not sure I would sound much like most of these artists, however, I still really like the term experimental pop and will from now on label myself that way)
*end later insert*
One thing that’s for sure is that I can’t talk about what my music sounds like detached from my influences and what I listen to. Because at the end of the day, my music is by and large a conglomeration of the music I listen to–I hope with a touch of Caleb flavor added to it. I think that my music is generally pretty melodic, in a pop sort of way. The instrumentation is more folk-like and at times rock-like. I’m always trying to add new instruments and sounds to my songs and do interesting things. My goal is to always be writing songs that sound different from each other, and to experiment with as many different genres as I can while I try to find my sound. I think this is probably an outflowing of my personality in general, as I like to try and live in and make friends in as many different areas and circles of life as possible, always expanding my horizons and learning from those who are different than me.
I also think a lot about my lyrics. I write songs for people who like to think, and people who like to read. I make a lot of literature, philosophy, and poetry references in my songs, while at the same time making an effort not to be preachy. Because I don’t have the answers. I’m just another man, walking these roads of life, trying to figure stuff out. I try to be as honest as I can, not shying from talking about my junk, but at the same time trying to present the hope that lies at the core and bottom of my heart. I hope you can find a little bit of truth, a little bit of beauty, and a little bit of honest life that you can relate to, because really, at the end of the day, that’s all I’m aiming for with my music.