music

RAINBOW SEASON - Friday, May 24, 2019

TrueGrooves presents Rainbow Season, the Mirs debut full-length album, a collaboration with KidGusto available on all digital and streaming platforms worldwide on Friday, May 24, 2019.

Executive produced by Pejman KidGusto & Amir Motlagh (Mirs).

©2019 TrueGrooves / ANIMALS

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MIRS - Singles 1218

MIRS (my ongoing music project + collaborations) just re-released 7 standalone singles (including a new soundtrack cut) on a single "disc". The record spans 2012-2018. 

Tracklist (with original release dates):
1) Kayla (2012)
2) Take Away (2012)
3) Summer God Complex (2014)
4) Woke up on the Moon (2015)
5) Moonlighting Mission Man (2017) ** - the link is to the visual short film**
6) Saturday (2018)
7) Hafiz Drinks from the Cup of Time (2018)

Where to stream (or buy)
- Itunes
- Spotify
- Bandcamp
- Pandora

MIRS - Singles 1218

MIRS - Singles 1218

RAINBOW SEASON LP & A Dark Desert Drive with No Lights

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.

 

 

 

 

what do you know of water’s worth while standing on the banks of the euphrates

(if inclined, please watch the work first...it runs 15min.)

Tomorrow marks the online premiere of my latest work (today for you) which I have conveniently embedded the link in this post. (if you prefer, on vimeo here)

This project functions as both a standalone film and also, a visual single for "Moonlighting MIssion Man", the latest release from my music project MIRS.

Two birds, one stone on the shallow end, a postmodernist twist on a Rene Magritte expression on the pretentious end. Both, equally as valid.

This is the working synopsis or thesis put through a press release blender:  "The film captures an intimate sliver into an Iranian American Sufi Muslim poet (Mahsa Hosseini) as she goes about finding meaning in her life. The visual narrative, shot in a classic cinéma vérité style, provides a strong counterpoint to the hidden, synth-driven, processed vocals in "Moonlighting Mission Man". The video eludes to a dual narrative between the film & the music, though kept hidden from plain sight."

Ultimately, this project started with this question, "Is this a short film or a music video?". And for me, ended with identity. (an ephemeral thing, with real-world consequences). 

But back to Magritte, and equally, Jean Baudrillard. Why is the opening question important to me? Media (and its contents) by in large is an open-ended question nowadays, and while I'm personally working through the details of this new paradigm, doing so with a dichotomous media might be my best way of processing it. What is a film? What is a tweet? How are they different? These are important questions in hyperreality when words have less direct meaning, and content rules all. 

of things which seemed impossible at first....

While doing a surface redesign of the site, I got a bit nostalgic when I ran across this item.  SHANKS AND THE DREAMERS "Instrumentals for Illegal Aliens" was the first bit of music I recorded as a conceptual whole, to be shipped out into the market. I did some soundtrack work for my film STILL LOVER, but the soundtrack was never intended to stand alone. The images drove the music.

The backstory to this record is one I will always cherish because of the many physical and emotional hurdles it entailed. It took much longer than a year to complete and I had no clue of the recording process. All of it was new.

And on top of that, I was completely self taught and didn't start playing instruments till later than most. At one point in my development, I was playing guitar for about 12 hours a day. My roommate at UCLA wanted to kill me, but he had no choice but to stay out of the apartment. I also surely skipped some classes, driven by my desire to understand how this damn thing worked.  

But, the recording process taught me a few lessons. One was that if you want something, you can make it happen regardless of the challenges. The other lesson was that setbacks don't mean anything in the long run. A hurdle is just a small physical barrier, or a psychological abstraction that is solvable. There will be many others to take its place along the way, but taken in small pieces, they don't amount to much. And they can almost always be defeated by ACTION.

Now, I know this isn't all that much, but for a kid who never had any musical experience, and without any knowledge of the tools of recording, I went from 0 to 1 pretty fast all because of a desire to try, learn, execute and ultimately, not give a shit of critical opinions. Because you cannot ship anything if your afraid of peoples reactions.

I'd love to hear your story. Send me message, and play this forward.

Also if you happen to need some introverted tracks to go along with your coffee, your creative work or a long drive, please pick up a digital copy of this ancient work (2007) right below:

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nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain (and other metaphors)

Yesterday, a sort of funny little thing happened. I was MYSPACE's "Artist of the Day" for my music project MIRS

This would have been the absolute pinnacle of web dominance for a music act if it took place in 2006, but just short of a decade later, it's a cute footnote, and a stark reminder that absolutely NOTHING LAST'S FOREVER.

So, you might currently be having the worst days of your life, but if you stick it out, make some changes and proceed with action, it can all change. That also dictates the scary, but real fact that the reverse is also just as true. 

And who knows, maybe even MYSPACE, under the best circumstances & leadership, could flip that website around to it's glory days again. Anything is possible. I mean, did you just see the updated PILLARS OF CREATION photo. Seriously, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!

Make plans, and just as vital, roll with those waves.

The Amateurs vs learning about Picasso

"In my opinion, though, it's more important that someone learn to make music, draw, photograph, write, or create in any form, regardless of the quality, than it is for them to understand and appreciate Picasso, Warhol, or Bill Shakespeare..." 

David Byrne writes the above quote in the fantastic thought piece, HOW MUSIC WORKS. Here, he talks about the need of amateurs to keep the arts vibrant, and more importantly, to bond a self healing glue for societies, with an emphasis on the disadvantaged.

At a certain point in the American industrialized education system, we abandoned the active creative arts, for art history.

The powers that be thought it more wise (and certainly less expensive) to teach an understanding of mostly Western Classical Art, than to let children create. Funding for arts programs plummeted all through the country in the last decade. 

But the creative act itself is the most vital. Art history and criticism is more the perpetuation of an elitist system created to worship monuments, over intuition.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've worshipped some of those masters works myself, but I would advocate for less worship, and more encouragement to the youth, who are seeking ways to figure out problems.

One of the best vehicles human beings "created" for problem solving, is art. And the evidence is clear that problem solving skills is an extremely desirable trait in industry now. So, if you want to give a gift to a child and an advantage, a nice pat on the back and a Beat Machine can go a long way.

 

Mirs - Take Away (Official Visuals)

Took a long while to finish this out for a host of reasons, but, the video is now live. I collaborated with my friend Tom Flynn on the concept, and we where both so busy with other projects that it never finalized. The footage, sitting all alone, for many months, deep in the throes of a mechanical hard drive in Burbank. The song itself was released in 2012.


leaving projects behind or always finishing.....

I recently picked up footage from a shoot we did over a year ago. We had some hiccups immediately during post, mostly because the world we were going to build in the box was a bit too complicated and time consuming without a larger team. This was an in-house production, so we aimed high, but the cost analysis did not add up.  A little after that realization we actually continued forward with some progress, but life got busy and other important priorities took over.

Now, this happens now and again. Personally, I just move forward without the burden of the past. If the ship is moving, why hit the brakes?

However, deep down, I'm often bothered by projects left to burn in their own ashes. Mostly because other people put in the time.

This is different than long term projects that are continuous and take time because of aesthetics, strategies or just out of necessities. I'm specifically talking about projects abandoned. Nine times out of ten, these are just scripts, treatments or half baked ideas that get pushed aside for newer scripts; but every once in awhile, its actually raw footage being tossed. You took the time to write something, got people together, and you shot the damn thing, and without any hesitation, you just threw it away. 

But here is where everything gets tricky. We are in the throes of "content world" now. Everything counts. The golden goose, and the piles of trash. They all have utility, serving the purpose of fulfilling the highs and lows of our culture. The stream of life is not historical. The origin story is now. Do you have enough material to feed this voracious monster?

With that in mind, I just salvaged some visuals locked away in harddrive hell.  Conceptually, the idea has changed, I'll be honest. But, the adjustment actually makes more sense now, since it's more in line with a certain creative process I'm dealing with, NOW.

Here is a still from the upcoming MIRS TAKE AWAY visual. The record is two years old and the footage, recently rescued from the depths of a harddrive in Burbank California, is over a year old. Who the fuck would know if I didn't say anything anyways.

Visuals from MIRS TAKE AWAY

Visuals from MIRS TAKE AWAY



the rewards of music....

The learning of a musical instrument is a great metaphor to our shifting world. An instrument by its nature is difficult. You learn it through discipline, one small step after another, till one day, many years later, you feel comfortable holding it and skilled at playing; it but still, the nagging feeling that you know absolutely nothing about it persists.  A guitar, piano, the trumpet, the tabla, they're infinite in regards to mastery.

Now, as we shift from an analog world to a digital one in all aspects of life, we also change the relationships of process with regards to analog tools. Our traditional instruments are analog. Our most recent instruments however are software (and in fact, they don't have to represent an analog doppelgänger), and as is the nature of digital tools, constantly changing and updating. Although the base of said software might remain the same through the course of its development, it is in continual iterations. Software instrumentation is also non-linear, automated, capable of interacting with many inputs and outputs and sometimes capable of creating its own musicality with just a set of parameters without even being "played" (a theremin on binary steroids). Our analog instruments do not work in this capacity, for the most part.  

The other key difference is that often, the actual recording software (DAW) is the instrument. This mixes both the instrument(s), and the recording, in one space. This obvious insight might not seem important, but think it through. When I first picked up a guitar, I had no idea that one day I might learn how to record music. But, kids with an iphone or ipad start recording immediately. The instrument is just one piece of the recording puzzle. And we are now handed the recording capability first (without even asking for it in many cases), then the instrument.  This is a complete flip of process. This gives precedent to the making of music, as opposed to the playing of music. 

So, the process is different. Software is by it's nature, much easier to understand, and the brevity of it's learning curve makes proficiency come at a much swifter rate. People do not spend a decade learning a piece of software and then suddenly coming to an "aw haw", a moment of absolute clarity that happens periodically to players of analog instruments.  Mostly because software gives a much swifter response to hardship. With software, you are ready to go after browsing a manual, checking some tutorials, and chugging a huge cup of coffee blended. Of course it helps to have a musical background, but its not a necessity to get started. Sure it gets more difficult when you expand your range and tools, but, it wants you to learn it fast. Your muscle memory is never tested. 

This is a non-judgmental observation.  This is the reality. If you are a teenager thinking about music, a small investment (or, ripping) will get you started, almost immediately. In fact, an intro software is probably included on your phone or computer already for free.  In roughly two years, with some tenacity, talent and luck, you might have uploaded a song on Youtube or Soundcloud and have thousands of people hear it.  In the old world, two years on a guitar might not even be enough time to get you in front of 10 people at your local open mic'd coffee shop. Just look at the ultra youngster electronic producers who are making hit songs, all by themselves and in record time.  

Just like everything else in this new world; we are glued to our screens and creating everything inside a little box with a backlight.