Chasing the Dragons

No one wins the game.  With high divorce rates, rampant cheating, lying and deception it’s easy to see why.  Even within so-called happy marriages there is bound to be discontent.  Why is that?  It’s because it’s something of human nature to be discontented.  People say, “Either game or be gamed.” Well, I propose an alternative – witnessing.

I think a game is a game until you’ve become emotionally invested.  I can’t speak for all games but, for instance, becoming emotional in poker is the first step toward going on tilt.  The same thing goes for jiu jitsu – you get emotional, you tense up and become more easily defeated.  There are arguments in favor of “beast mode” but for the most part good game is played cool-headed.  I’ve found the sociosexual game to be quite pulling on the heart strings.  It’s a very difficult game to play and remain calm.  Unfortunately for men, we never get over a breakup 100%.  I could say the same for even minor trauma.  It’s a very risky endeavour and I advise against it.

The man is generally always a loser when it comes to sex.  He has to initiate, risks rejection and ultimately is rewarded only with an energy-draining experience which is quite short.  I won’t even elaborate on disease or any other sex-related disorders such as marriage or kids.  I can’t speak on behalf of women but I’m sure many guys are either triggered by this or nodding their heads.  Probably depends on how many women they’ve slept with.

Anyway, I want to suggest witnessing as an alternative.  Instead of “gaming” and getting wrapped up in whether you’re winning or losing, just observe your reactions to being up and down – because you certainly will be both.

It’s better to master yourself than sleep with every woman on the planet.

The True Israel

If you are dominated by the sun you will be aggressive, madly aggressive, ambitious, political, hot, burning will, desire and passion.  If you are dominated by the moon you will be cool, non-ambitious, non-aggressive, receptive, peaceful, silent.  But both have to be transcended because both are lop-sided.  One has to come to a moment where one can say, “I am neither man nor woman.”  That’s when a man becomes a Buddha or a man becomes a Christ or a man becomes a Krishna when he is neither man nor woman, neither moon nor sun, neither “is” nor “ra,” neither yin nor yang.  He simple is, purely is.  All formulations have disappeared.

But this happening happens only by and by.  First you have to drop the principle of “ra” – the principle of the sun, the male energy – and you have to move into the feminine, into the female.  And from there you have to move into the beyond.

-Osho, Tao: The Pathless Path, Vol 2, 1977

Political America

Can everyone shut the fuck up for one damn second?

People protesting in the streets, burning flags and waving them like ninja swords.  People in glass houses throwing stones while planning their exodus north.  It’s ridiculous.  They act like they’re saints and everyone who disagrees is a sinner.  Do they always get their way by yelling and screaming like wet infants?  It’s funny to me that all these college-educated people are in the streets shouting, “Fuck Donald Trump.”  It’s great those high-level English classes helped them so much.

Listen, the cliche is that no one is perfect.  I’ll add to that and say no one’s perfect except an immature person that doesn’t get their way.  Or even worse – a mob of immature people throwing responsibility on another’s shoulders like the way a person’s personality changes when they get behind a wheel.  Everyone has flaws – once that fundamental is grasped we can move forward to point two – empathetic cooperation.

For each person missing work to burn shit out on the boulevard there is another person that is silently being alienated.  It could be your neighbor or friend.  When I was in the Army I learned that so much more can be done as a team than alone.  If all these smart people could remember that basic truth then we could all start trying to put it into practice.

As a side note, I find it ironic that some minorities can act patently racist against whites – even less-educated people, and get away with it.  Strange to call your enemy a racist while being one yourself, isnt it?

I understand it feels good to belong.  However, a lot of inclusivity includes exclusivity.  In other words, the more you hate the other side the more resistance you’ll beget.  So, please be quiet.  Try listening.  If you are superior then act that way.

And for god sakes stop burning shit.

What is Hexspa? Part 5

Parts one, two, three and four.

So it’s come to this.

It was the EDM revolution.  America remembered it could dance.  How fitting that Dubstep had no identifiable dance.  Good time to shake off the rust I suppose.

Working in the Pro Audio department of the Stupidly American music store, I was surrounded by a DJ and a grad of Pyramind.  Between these two “colleagues” and being lambasted while jamming Bossa Nova with some old guys I heeded the Electronic call.  I knew I wanted to release an album but that was too much work.  Work sucks.

I took a Coursera course on The Beatles and discovered their strategic use of the EP format.  When I realized I could get music out faster, but still not release random singles, I tacked on and finally released the first half of the Uncomfortable EP this year in spring.  The second half should go out in December or January ’17.  Being a one man band isn’t fun or easy though.  Plus there’s all those synths to learn..

In the meantime I’ve been synthing it up with the 8 Bar Embryo series, going pro with my One True Path Acoustics brand and all the while trying not to go bankrupt.

26 years goes fast.  (So does 5 parts of autobiography).  I’m currently struggling to not compare myself to younger, more successful artists.  The truth is, and it’s not an excuse, but I’m on a religious path.  Long days of grinding it out are not appealing to me.

Music, for me, is a great way of expression, a brain workout, very rewarding and even a bit fun.  I’ll be offering some things for sale soon and anything I can earn would be great.  For now, the best thing is being able to do what I enjoy, sharing it with others and, hopefully, one day being able to make something that the world can appreciate as much as I do.

Ok?  Ok.

 

What is Hexspa? Part 4

Parts one, two, and three.

So there I was.  2008.  A MySpace girlfriend and a new name.  Service weapon of choice: guitar and voice.  MOS: Songwriter.

In 2009 I went to school for music.  For three weeks.  It was a tad shameful of an experience and I’ll leave it at that.  Basically I didn’t want to be “just” a guitar player.  I wanted moar.

Moar I got.  Back in El Paso, and after I’d picked up my first audio interface, I started exploring the world of DAWs and Plug-ins.  It was during these next two years I also studied up on small room acoustics, improved my singing and songwriting and released my first tracks (and picked up a little bjj).  Kinda hated the El Paso though.  I hadn’t lived two straight years anywhere since being kicked out of my house at 18.  I was restless and wanted new opportunities.  Hmm..  Where’s a wandering troubadour to go?

California.  Again.  More songs.  More performances but this time it was different.  I didn’t want to pay anyone to record me.  I always loved production and dreamed of just releasing everything on my own.  After debiting two more years from the Bank of Life I had a certificate from Berklee  and a whole crapload of anxiety about what to do with it.

At this point it’s around 2013.  For the past 12 years I’d been bouncing around trying to find due North.  It wasn’t until working at a Sucky Ass music store and hearing some brostep that I knew where I was headed.  Ah yes, those lovely wubs – as sweet as the violin’s siren so many years before.  A sound, a signpost and the gateway to the future.

Continued in Part 5.

What is Hexspa? Part 3

Part one and part two.

It started with MySpace.  It always used to start with MySpace.

In the Army I met a girl.  Late 2007 we moved into a roommate situation.  I was preparing for a music school in Hollywood (deliberately not naming it).  I’d pushed back my entrance for whatever reason (slacker).  So, early 2008 I was considering what I’d publish my music as.  The motto for the battalion I was in was “per ardua ad astra” which means something like “you’ll get to the stars if you suffer enough”.  I’m also prone to random reads on Wikipedia so I took inspiration from the Sigma Six protocol.  I don’t know what Sigma Six is all about but I think it’s something to do with managing improvement.  It all sounded pretty Latin so I smooshed it together to get Hex Sigma Per Ardua which essentially meant “struggle to improve”.  It was then shortened to Hex S.P.A. before just becoming what it is now.  I’m afraid to know if it actually means something in Latin.  Actually, it probably means swiss cheese fetishist.  I could live with that.

At that time I was learning covers and writing originals on the good ole’ acoustic geetar.  I was also in the very early stages of my learning to sing.  I emphasize very early, as in, don’t you dare look for evidence.  You’ve been warned.

Ugh, I’m trying to keep these posts under 250 words so in Part 4 I’ll ‘splain you from 2008 till now and how the EDM revolution ruined my life.

What is Hexspa? Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

Failure is the shit out of which new fruit grows.  I should start an orchard.

The band was falling apart.  People were leaving, new lineups weren’t as solid and my musicianship needed work.  A chance encounter during an altered state of mind was the first clue as to what my future would hold.

It was the first time I’d ever seen one in real life.  The MPC 2000 was the mythical sampler that Hip Hop guys used.  Being a Tool fan, it wasn’t on my short list of must-have-gear.  The fact that those two guys could make an entire song with minimal drama was a revelation.  I made sure to pick up an ASR-X Pro and started learning the craft.  That’s when things got tricky.

Between my network falling apart and my over-inflated sense of entitlement (hey I played with the best guys) I decided to move to California.  What followed was about three years of nebulous wandering, auditions, and lackluster performances then an additional two years of military service.  I’d joined to get my education.  So that brings us to a total of 10 years I was out-and-about trying to get my bearings straight.  When they say time moves fast, they weren’t lying.  Whoever “they” are.

In Part 3 I’ll explain how and why Hexspa itself started and maybe by the end of if you’ll care more.

FLOW 1 – Arrival (Overview)

Hey guys.  In this post I’ll be describing the contents of my first video of the FLOW series.

Basically FLOW is a real-time behind-the-scenes look at my DAW workflow when creating the 8 Bar Embryo series.

As you might know, 8 Bar Embryos is the name I’ve given to my EDM-based pursuit of improvement.  In other words, since I have a Groove Metal background as a guitarist, I wanted to expand my sonic palette.  I’ve always liked Dance music (actually, late 90’s House was the first genre I liked) so I figure by making 100 tracks I’ll be good enough to charge.

So until then I’m offering you all to come along with me on my journey.  Some of you are more experienced and others less so.  Whatever your experience level, please be sure to engage with me via comments, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so we can have a conversation.  Two layered leads are bigger than one!

In this first FLOW video you’re welcomed with a session-in-progress.  I’ve already mapped out my reference track and have begun sound design and arrangement on my track.  If you are wondering why I’d do those things then be sure to ask and I’ll explain.

Anyway, check out the video and let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

What Is Hexspa? Part 1

Hexspa is death.

Actually, Hexspa is my life.  In a sense Hexspa is death since I’ll probably be doing it until then.  Hexspa is my musical activity.  Music=life, life=death; Hexspa=death.

The seeds of Hexspa can be traced to my first years as a violin student beginning in second grade.  A local orchestra came to Lincoln Elementary School in Brookfield, Il around 1989.  The idea was that they had teamed up with Quinlan & Fabish Music Co. (both still around I’m surprised to learn) to blow our little minds (and earn some rentals) by introducing us to the glories of Classical music.  I’d have to say they were quite successful.

That day they did a short ensemble demonstration followed by short solos by the various instruments.  They must’ve played through the brass, woodwinds and other stringed instruments before they got to the violin.  I tell you what, that sound has never rung out of my ears.  Just like that parade of instruments I moved on from violin after two years to the obligatory recorder, snare drum and a brief DJ phase before getting exposed to Heavy Metal and switching to guitar.  That was a critical moment.

Guitar and Metal led me to meeting dozens of other kids that played.  Through that network I was able to play shows with a number of different bands and grow closer to the music I loved.  It was during this time I realized that music was all I really wanted to do with my life.  For better or for worse, though, a failed near-miss in impressing a Roadrunner Records-signed act led me back to the music production I’d initially admired.

To be continued..

Everyday is Overrated – The Case for 3 Times a Week

“Let come what comes, let go what goes.  See what remains.” – Ramana Maharshi

You’re pulling yourself apart like a giant piece of string cheese. The phrase “tearing out your hair” must have some truth to it. We live in a culture that favors the ambitious, the wealthy and tend to overlook the subjective experience of those idols. We forgo aesthetic, present living and artistic fulfillment. We forgo religion and patience and instead pair with aggression and absent-mindedness. We’re competitive and yet we go nowhere.

Some of us rebel against the mainstream. We become outsiders, outcasts, burnouts, drop-outs, ironic hipsters or addicts. We see the frosty landscape of humanity and decide it’s not worth thawing out. We turn our affections toward bitterness and cynicism in the name of creativity. But are the artists really even living? It’s tough to feel completely fulfilled when you’re at odds with half the population. Not being able to see the doctor for lack of funds has it’s own special kind of downside.

What I’m proposing here is a marriage between the fighting yoga and the loser bhoga. I think that whenever we pick, we necessarily decline half of our being. I guess this is a call for choiceless awareness. Maybe it’s time we stop fighting and denying our whole being and learn to float between two banks. A perfect metaphor, or rather concrete example, of this idea is in the balance between work and play.

Let’s say you want to work on something full-time.  Maybe you’ve found your calling.  Maybe you want to get ahead at work.  We all know that this approach leads to burnout and lack of inspiration before long.  Creativity needs space and rest.  Science has shown that the brain works in two ways: one tense and one diffuse.  Focusing is like a sprint; it can’t be done forever.  The recovery period is where you really grow.  Plus your best work is done when you’re happy.  The longer you drag on, the worse you feel, the more you’re creating an imbalance in the natural flow and your work, and chutzpah invariably suffers.

You also want to eliminate bad habits.  You throw away all the cheese in your refrigerator.  You wake up early to work out.  But before long you’re tired.  You’re lacking the vibrancy that those extra chocolates used to give you.  Cranky and sleepy, you know you can’t continue this forever.  You’ve cut yourself off from your childlike flow so you become bored, anxious and full of conflict.   Cheat days give you fun and diversion.  The downtime helps spawn new ideas.  But partying can be taken to an extreme.  If you do it every day it dampens health, becomes less exciting and less inspiring.

Mentally, we always want to do our best.  But the mind makes a better servant than a master, as they say.  Instead of working on the same thing every day, be willing to give up a little progress in the name of balance, diversity and enjoyment.  Whether it’s work, art and hobbies or a few soapy pints – too much is too much.

Hence, rest and labor balance each other.
Do not favor one or each will suffer.
Work when you feel you’re able.
Rest when you feel like resting.
Leave the rest in the hands of the unknown.
Then your path will be inimitable and you’ll feel whole.

-m