Random ramblings.

Friday
Jun202014

Why You're Great, Reason #16,233,241

When I was getting this tour together, I got a nice msg from a cool German couple in a small city called Montabaur.

First off, just being touch with nice people around the world through the music I've made is something that never fails to make me smile, even in my worst of moods.

They wanted me to come and play in their living room, donation-style. I love me a good house show, and their invitation seemed especially nice and clear (my favorite combination), so I happily accepted. They kept in touch as it neared. They booked me a hotel room (though I would've happily stayed on a couch, etc). They made a nice, simple meal, which we all shared before the guests arrived. They set up their modest, beautiful home with chairs and snacks and drinks for all. A bunch of their equally friendly friends came out and we had a really, really nice night of music. Everyone there chipped in 10€-ish or more or whatever they could, people bought stuff, I'm sure there was plenty of money in my pocket at the end of the night (I never count the money, takes away from the experience for me) to cover my travel costs, with some for savings.

When it goes this well and it's this personal, it is the best sort of humbling ever.

But wait, there's more.

The next day was a day off. It was a sudden schedule change, so I didn't have anywhere to stay. Thanks to the first cool couple inquiring on my behalf, another cool couple kindly said that I could stay at their nearby home. That's where I'm sitting right now. I just went out to see what nice-sounding music they had put on, and I saw this CD. I didn't really get it at first;, thought maybe someone had recorded the show and made up a CD incredibly quickly, which wouldn't really have surprised me, given how incredibly thoughtful everyone involved had been thus far. Then I was told that it was actually a little homemade promo CD that the hosts had made up and shared with their friends and colleagues as an invitation to the show.

Clearly, it blew my mind. THIS is why I'm so effusive with my gratitude (whether in person or over the internets) to anyone that cares about the music & me. This is why I try so hard to show it; not just in words, but also in actions. For anyone that's ever wondered about that (or doubted my sincerity, all you cynical critics haha), this 24 hours is it. This is what helps when I miss home and wonder about what I'll do with the rest of my life. If it can be anything like this, I'm in. This is the sort of communication and community I will steer towards for however many more years I make stuff for a living.

Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou.

Oh, did I mention the big cardboard cut-out of Are Two in their living room, or the mug that everyone put their donation into? So there's that, too. Nice nerds unite.

Wednesday
May282014

Be A Better Baker

A while back, I was super surprised to receive an invitation to write something for a cool publication called Pear Noir. I was really flattered and happy with myself initially, then progressively more frightened at the prospect of trying to write anything longer than a song or a journal entry. It took a while, but this short story arrived. I'm really happy it did. Click here to read it if you like.

Saturday
Dec212013

Lots

My heart is more tender and porous (figuratively speaking) than ever. This crazy tornado drone (pun intended) of DuckDynastyTrayvonZimmermanNewtownMandelaHealthCareRKellySlaneGirlRacismAntisemitismHomphobiaMisogynyAusterityOnandonandonandon just overwhelms and paralyzes me with sadness so easily right now. Seeing people react to and reflect on it (or not) can be even more wrenching. Conflict on every level feels so scary and ugly right now. At the same time, so many ridiculously joyous things on global and personal levels (same thing, really) are equally vivid and palpable, bring happy tears and silly jigs even more easily than usual. It's all feelings that, also especially lately, don't really feel fitting to post about, other than to say it like this. That might change, but who knows. It also feels better to write it on my personal website, even when I share it via FB or whatever. There's something about the insane scale of 'communication' right now, the way bits and bytes can be take out of context, glanced at and impulsively echoed or eviscerated, blasted out everywhere, repeated and repeated and lost. I'm treasuring more than ever personal, direct connection right now, whether it's in relationship with people that like the music/ideas that I make or people I know on a more traditional, day-to-day, physically-present level.

Have a happy, healthy, honest, heaving-with-emotion day -- holi-day or otherwise.

Monday
Dec162013

Actually... This Feels Good.

On the bus home after dropping off my beaten-up old car for some serious surgery, I listened to this podcast about emo. A friend said he'd thought of me when he listened to it, and I really like Grantland, Bill Simmons, etc, so I checked it out. While it's a little surreal and I can hear my ego whining about not being mentioned in it (I can't help but think that Chris Dashboard purposefully avoided mentioning me, since I know how much Far and onelinedrawing meant to him, which makes me wonder if he's mad at me or something)... what I'm primarily feeling is a deep happiness that, while I've danced around the outskirts of so many scenes and labels, we've made a little world outside of all that somehow, and we're still here. So, for anyone that met me through music I've been a part of making, no matter when that happened: I'm so grateful that through all this, our conversation remains simple & direct (more and more, really), on this (relatively) small scale. Thank you.

ps - All that said, Kerrang! has written some really nice, thoughtful stuff over the years and I'm forever thankful to them... and anyone else that spreads the word that way. 

Wednesday
Nov202013

The Unnecessary Supernatural

I don't understand how (or even believe that) these hyper-closeups of snowflakes could be real -- and I love that feeling so much.

There is just no need for the supernatural when the natural is so fuckin super.

(More info and details at http://www.demilked.com/macro-snowflakes-diy-camera-alexey-kljatov/)

 

Monday
Nov042013

Movember Reign

- Movember Reign UK Tour Nov 12-24 (http://jonahmatranga.com/shows)
- Far on vinyl, finally (http://jonahmatranga.com/supahsale)
- Kickstarter Kwestions Koming
- Album finishing party in SF Dec 13
- Album done in December, somehow

So, as you can see from the list above, lots and lots and lots goin on this month. Trying to breathe through it and do the one step at a time dance. Never been my best sport.

Anyway, yea, a week from today, barely after getting home from an absolutely splendid adventure through Europe, I head back over to the ever-lovin UK for a handful of Autumnal shows. I'll be bringing merch with me for those that want to keep it super-direct and hand-delivered, including a very limited number of the reissued Far albums on colored vinyl (Water & Solutions and Tin Cans With Strings To You, pictured below). Here's a fun way to order stuff so I know just what to bring you: http://jonahmatranga.com/supahsale 

Whether you'll be at a show or not, you can use that page for simplicity and fun. For those that wrote before, please do it again, as now I have price ideas and available sizes on there to make it a little easier on all of us, haha. For those wanting stuff for the UK run, please let me know what you want ASAP so I can pack it up and bring it to wherever we'll meet up.

Since this tour is happening in November and I happen to have a mohawk, I've repurposed this really cool, cute idea called Movember by growing my mohawk instead of a moustache. Click here to see my page, please chip in and spread the word.

For all the kool kickstartin kids, I'll be saying hi direct, but just lettin you know here & now that the center of my life is making our new record happen in all the fun ways we've figured. Talk to you soon.

For those that don't know, I'm recording a collection of tunes called 'I Really Love Your Company' that will be done real soon. I'll be celebrating finishing it with a show on Dec 13 in Berkeley at the lovely Subterranean Arthouse.

And that'll about do it for this month's roundup. There's tons more to say (always), but it's all going into the music anyway, so there. I leave you for now with a goofy pic of me all happy with the new Far vinyl, which was surprisingly touching to touch. We've made some really fun stuff real, haven't we?

Thank you.

Love,

Jonah 

 

Sunday
Sep292013

*No spoilers here, though this is about spoiled people (that's us)*

The thing is, Breaking Bad really is that good and worth thinking/talking about. If you aren't caught up or haven't seen it at all, this won't mess with that -- and you really should check it out. Anyway, being the overly analytical nerd that I am about such things (no shame in my game), I offer the following:

I'm disappointed with a lot of the analysis that I've heard/read, even from folks seemingly pretty closely affiliated with the show. The story isn't about whether Walter White is evil incarnate or whatever, much less Walt vs. Hank being some Satan/God silliness, or the truly creepy and terrifying misogynistic takes on Skyler, etc. 

It all starts, of course, with taking the whole 'would you steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family?' to a really extreme level, which is a really simple premise done incredibly well. Initially, that (along with a lot of other brilliant character complexities) makes Walter White a really compelling anti-hero. As the plot expands, though, we see not just one person (WW) attempting to deal with a life that hasn't meet their expectations on any number of levels, we're dealing with a world of them. 

It was one of many strokes of genius to make this show's central protagonist a chemist, as what we're watching (as we always are, in any story) is the reaction that occurs when these characters (elements) are, figuratively speaking, put under various levels of heat, pressure, etc. Those reactions are their choices. They are only inevitable in the sense that, inherently, whatever the elements are that make up each person have all been forming all their lives, leading to these moments. Every character that has any sort of autonomy (i.e. everyone but the kids) makes their choices, over and over again. It's not about them being manipulated by Walt (though that is a superpower survival skill of his that he wields masterfully and brutally) or otherwise forced into their particular ugliness. Whether it's through ambition, greed, complacency, fear, shame or some other universal human condition, the scars of the various characters (the origins of which we don't know in many cases, which rules) lead to choices that slowly unravel them. As obvious as that sounds, that's sort of the point. None of these people are evil, any more than any of us are. 

All of the time, to wildly varying degrees, we as individuals and as groups are making the same sorts of strategic plays to protect our egos, anesthetize our wounds, deny the present moment, take more than we need at the expense of others and generally nibble away at ourselves and each other, kind of sneak our way through our lives without getting found out. As we can see by the state of our species, this isn't working out super well -- for anyone, really. The destruction and horror doesn't generally doesn't happen in big, dramatic moments (though those are what we love to mythologize, along with the big miraculous wins). That is usually the story that gets told, especially with the blissful redemption at the end. That doesn't seem to be what's going on in BB, at least in the obvious ways. In BB, as in life, the tragedy has unfolded in little bits and pieces, barely perceptible sometimes, almost as if by magic -- or as if big, supernatural (or governmental, or financial, or social, or all the other concepts we worship) forces of Good and Evil are pulling our strings. That, of course, is the worst sort of bullshit and exactly the attitude that leads to still more apathy, etc -- and that is what this brilliant, heart-wrenching, beautiful show is about. At the crucial moment(s), just making the wrong call, for the wrong reasons (and we all have our reasons): that is breaking bad. 

Here's to great art and learning about ourselves through it.

Wednesday
Sep112013

Because Freedom.

 

I will never forget being on tour when it happened.

The shows over the next coupla weeks were so intimate.

That's what shows are really for.

Wednesday
Jul242013

Unprepared

There is something that happens when we come into (or come back to) this world. We develop a sort of necessary callous on our sensing selves. We become callous. The little jabs and passive-aggressive, would-be humorous insults help to desensitize us from the pain of of our poisonous and jagged interactions with each other and our environment. We obsessively cleanse each other with language, we make each other warm with our words so that we aren't raw, so that we won't be subject to the disease-causing dangers of our inevitable poisons, our spoiled nature. We do this with all the fastidiousness that one of us might use when preparing an animal for sacrifice or consumption (if there is even a difference between those two processes). So I'm here, and I understand why we do these things. I don't necessarily enjoy the muted flavors and artificial preservatives... and I'm okay with being on the menu and choosing from it. All that said, I would like my love, companionship and participation to be served rare -- and a little dirty. I'll tend towards the wild. I want to stay at least a little bit unprepared.