It's been a decade since I released a "full length" record. The first time up, I was just learning music production. I had never recorded anything myself before (not entirely true; I had recorded a short film score ((STILL LOVER)) on a portable multi-track), and my understanding of the process was from what I gleamed from observing my friend produce my first record, which was purely an instrumental one. While I had some production credits on that, my role was in composition, instrumentation and performing, not in tracking, or any of the studio stuff associated with recording records. Up to that point, I had been in and out of bands, mostly just playing electric guitar. But the opportunity appeared because I felt like I could do it. The thought just sprang up in my head, and like the field of dreams, it had to be done.
It was an intense ordeal, since I had no clue, and was left to learn everything myself, from the ground up. But that process taught me an invaluable lessons; that if you want to do something way outside your competence, it can still be done. Dive head first, break shit, learn, and if you're still excited, do it again was the ethos. You have that bounce back energy with youth & there never is anything to lose. Time refines process, but process comes before quality even after refinement. You never really know quality (it's an intangible), but you always know process & that's easier to refine.
My time in music happened in a similar way to filmmaking. It was the start of the digitalization of media. Computers and soundcards and emulation and plugins and as important, digital aggregators where making the home recording possible, and the barriers to entry affordable. All that was left was the energy, the desire and the doing.
In 2007 I released a short instrumental record, A DAY LATE: INSTRUMENTALS FOR ILLEGAL ALIENS under my project alias at the time, SHANKS AND THE DREAMERS. My friend Ray P headed the production. He had recorded a couple of DIY albums (they still hold up) for his own projects and was a super fan of Steve Albini's style and methodology. We did the tracking in a music space (Bassland Studios) in Santa Ana California headed by OC electronic music pioneer Alex X. from the project of the same name BASSLAND (location where I shot a film called "my break ups into a million pieces"). A DAY LATE had six tracks and it took nearly 2 years to complete. Scheduling the sessions, mixing, tracking, school, work, and balancing my first love, film, expanded the production cycle way past what I had anticipated.
As a son of first-generation immigrants, my life seemed completely foreign and wayward to my parents. They had no idea where I got my interest in music, as I had never played an instrument before, except after high school, while in college, picking up my first guitar while I studied at UCLA. Though the seeds were planted much earlier, and maybe I'll write about that in a different time. In any case, all was upheaval. It's hard to transpose an understanding now, to how things were. At that time, my choices were limited, because my understanding was completely limited. So, I could only see two viable options. Go back to school, or work at a coffee shop for the rest of my life (this binary seems incredibly naive and silly, but I suppose that's how it looks for large swarms of people). There were no career aspirations in art, even though all my time was spent doing it because I was disconnected from that reality even existing. It was an impossibility. And of course, that impossibility was just an illusion. But an illusion is no different than a reality, without the tools to break through.
In any case, and to the relief & constant campaigning from my parents, I headed back to school for a graduate degree. This experience made me an advocate at dissuading most from going through the same mistake. It is part of my story, and I would not change it in any way, but when asked, I offer the truth. And that truth is that for the majority, there are much better options and routes.
And that leads me the last full-length record I did many years ago. A month after I shot my thesis project, I recorded my first full-length record under SHANKS AND THE DREAMERS (it had turned more or less into a band at this time), "MY DARLING DIA". It took a few intense months of education, assembling the tools, learning the programs, writing the songs, and tracking. And all of it was a giant fuck up for the most part. But it was the single greatest music production lesson I ever learned. It was a condensed, intense education, full of "Skin In the Game" and no help or resources other than my partner at the time (Art Toussi) and localized friends in the scene (bands) and of course, the web. To my giant relief, almost every question had an answer on some forum once you filtered through the arguments. And some of the tools I gathered for that project still sit in my studio (music hardware lasts much longer than the digital stuff). Here we were, a local two-piece band out of Orange County Californian, self-producing an entire record, sitting in one of the top NY Mastering Studios, where a single compressor cost more than the whole production & still completely clueless, but feeling accomplished & wild-eyed. Oddly enough, neither of was thought of ourselves as musicians really. We both had wholly different lives with trajections that had nothing to do with music.
Which leads me to this. My first full-length record under my project MIRS, RAINBOW SEASON is coming out later this year. While I've been recording EP's and singles for the last several years under MIRS, I had assumed that a full-length project was out of the scope, as each EP was thought of as my last time recording (interestingly, music had always been regulated as a side project until the last couple years when I dropped compartmentalizing everything). But, with time and refinement usually bring in something else. Help. And ever since CANYON, MIRS has had lots of help. So what was once a solo endeavor now has the assistance to take the means of communication into another space.
And that all changed because one thing was missing. The desire to repeat & expand the process, something that I had always wanted to do with this new project, but never allowed myself to go all the way. It was another glass ceiling. That's what they always are.
It took a long time to get to CANYON and the merging of music & film, but not surprisingly, it's just another beginning.