||Friday, September 26 2008 @ 07:35 PM CDT
|| , United States
I am mostly checked out of MacJams right now. I am up to two little trouble-girls now and they keep me busy. Talk to you soon.
This is the bio I pass around:
At the young age of 12 JC Simonsen began writing and recording multi-layered musical compositions using the most lo-fi equipment imaginable. Steadily moving forward, Simonsen eventually transitioned from a simple boom-box and acoustic guitar to a Tascam 4-track recorder, adding vocal, drum, bass, electric guitar and keyboard lines and producing two full albums ("Blue","Contagion") using this very limited equipment. These albums got favorable reviews that praised the high quality and musical depth achieved under these conditions. Following this success Polly PUt the Kettle On became a live band for several years and gathered crowds large enough to fill college gymnasiums.
On the surface, Polly PUt the Kettle On is music with an alternative pop rock sensibility, laced with a heavy supporting layer of funk and blues, with other styles playing lesser roles - coming out of the alcoves for a breath of fresh air and then moving back to their dark hiding place. It's fair to say the music has a depth that allows for and supports this rich interplay.
In addition, Polly PUt the Kettle On has stubbornly held to a "no machines" ethos. As time and money allowed, Simonsen upgraded to a digital recorder to capture more high quality audio and more tracks, and added better amps, instruments, and microphones to the toolbox, keeping in mind that tools come to life in the hands of the artists who use them.
Polly PUt the Kettle On has focused on recording live and natural instruments: guitars, drums, keyboards and harmonicas were recorded directly from the hands of the artist -- working through fingers, picks, sticks, and lips. Even the guitar solos and many of the wandering rhythm lines are generally played improvisationally and captured in raw form to preserve their immediacy. In short, one defining feature of Polly PUt the Kettle On is the notion that "keeping it real" makes music that might possibly reach deeper into the soul. This would be an easy pact to break given the difficulty of operating as a solo recording artist.
In this way, Polly PUt the Kettle On follows in the footsteps of several other notables such as Trent Reznor, who working alone created the album "Pretty Hate Machine" by Nine Inch Nails, or Lenny Kravits who has personally played most instruments on his many albums. Dave Grohl recorded the first Foo Fighters album mostly solo. These solo artists and others forged the trail for many more to follow.
The music started simply enough. I was a kid who liked "rock" music, as most do. I started learning the obvious instrument: The guitar. I had a few reasons. First, my grandfather played one, and I'd seen him play for years. Maybe it ran in the family. Next, I liked the way a guitar puts you directly in contact with the strings. You can be very expressive, even outrageous. I liked the way a guitar is an instrument that "anyone can play", which is to say that even punk kids can do interesting things with it from time to time. I am fascinated with the violin and viola for the same reasons, but the guitar is a bit easier and it's the "voice of the people" factor that I think really works for me. This is the "folk" element that I think the guitar more than any other instrument has been able to capture in our modern times. Just think, what does "folk" mean anyway? Yeah: It means PEOPLE. I like that. I think PEOPLE matter -- all of us. I like it when we tell our stories, however we are able.
I immediately started walking a dangerous line between experimenting with the incredible nuances of the instrument and trying to play something that people would recognize as music. I have several recordings that are just so weird I could never post them here or anywhere. The idea I guess was that emotion can drive the strings directly, which is of course a pathetic fantasy. But I tried it anyway. In addition I have always wanted to use any kind of acoustic sound source I had available. I never did really learn the piano, and in fact as a guitar player...to me the black keys seem like a horrendous accident. But we're stuck with them anyway. Yet I've on occasion tried to write things on the piano and incorporate them into my work. When it comes down to it, I have really focused on being a "rock" musician, which to me means I'm looking for a riff or hook of some kind that is interesting enough to be worthy of some variation and expansion. Taking something like this I can expand the theme using textural and scalar values that are some combination of appropriate and instinctive to arrive at an output. Ok, so...clear?
I guess this means essentially that I think up stuff, and play it my way. I favor the use of acoustic guitars because I like the textural depth of the acoustic sound, but I tend to layer other sounds in the mix. My music is generally a little heavy in the lower frequency range, and it has grown to be a mixture of blues, jazz, funk, and rock.
My intentions here at MacJams, now that I am acquainted, are roughly:
1) Meet other musicians, become part of a community, give back
2) Share the music I've created, hopefully to the benefit of all
3) Take some of my more undeveloped ideas, old and new, share and see what happens