Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Inside my Virtual Life

I rediscovered a set of my oldest song notebooks recently. They contain 124 songs I wrote between the ages of fifteen and twenty one. It made me think again about my recent conversation with Gipsy Quixote about art, creativity, inspiration and influence.

The urge to create has been with me for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory of writing a song goes all the way back to lying in the dark as a grade schooler, making up a song instead of trying to fall asleep. I have no idea what first gave me the idea to write songs, but outside of self-medication, songwriting became my sole therapy growing up. There were countless times something bad happened that I dealt with by thinking, "Well, I can at least get a song of of this," and then actually writing one. The high point of my musical journey so far happened about fifteen years ago when I went into a studio with a producer and session musicians and cut a CD. (If you're interested, you can find songs from that CD along with a few newer demos on my Reverb Nation site.)

I never pursued music as a career. But it's been a serious and consistent hobby throughout my life until a half dozen years ago when I shifted to visual expression. Although I don't know what led me to start writing songs, I was moved to start creating visual works by the Visual Thinking movement, a community that sees visual expression as "about the process, the ability to engage others in understanding ideas, not the aesthetics of the result." In short, it gave me psychological permission to express myself visually, even though I didn't feel I had much skill or even latent potential in that area.

What moved me pretty completely into the visual medium was the discovery of Second Life and the emergence of the Botgirl Questi persona. It provided the perfect storm of tools, subject matter and audience to provide what proved to be years of inspiration for visual expression.  But now I'm feeling the pull again towards music.

In addition to the song notebooks, I've also recently rediscovered a bunch of old demos on cassettes, CDs and audio files. In the video below, I paired one one of them with clips from Charlie Chaplain's 1928 film, The Circus. I thought the slapstick imagery did a good job of rubbing up against the angst of the lyrics.

This song's called "Virtual Life." But it's not about virtual worlds. They didn't exist when I recorded it in my bedroom 15+ years ago on a multi-track cassette recorder. The song is about getting caught up in imagined drama and story . Hmm. Maybe I was prescient.

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