I feel like this little story from the musician Gold Panda says a lot, about a lot of things:
There are two tracks [on my new album]. One’s called “Before We Talked” and one’s called “After We Talked.” They’re about a friend. They’re all made with this really bad Yamaha electric organ that I got from eBay for like a pound. There’s loads of these ones. They’re all ex-church organs, school organs. And no one wants them any more, so they stick them on eBay. And then no one can pick them up, because they’re too big. So unless you’ve got a van, no one wants them. I won it for a pound, and then I got a mate to go and pick it up with me.
It’s this old wooden thing with pedals. It looks amazing, but it’s actually pretty rubbish. I like rubbish stuff.
My friend who was making music at the time, and the guy who had the van, he passed away.
I had always been making music. Before that, I was like — I’m not very good, and it’s just a hobby. And after that, it was like, well, maybe it’s something I could do. And I just gave up trying to get jobs. I said, okay, jobs don’t make me very happy. I’ll just live with my parents for a while, make a bunch of tunes and see what happens. It worked out good. And those tracks were just made with that one organ. And all the kind of glitchy sounds — it’s filled with dust, and it makes these crackly sounds when you turn it on or change the settings. So I just turned those up really loud to make the percussion sounds. Everything.
It’s from a long interview over at Peter Kirn’s Create Digital Music. Which is, by the way—I don’t know if Peter would describe himself as a journalist—but it’s an absolutely canonical example of somebody carving out a beat and owning it. It’s not really my world, but I always find Peter’s blog such a joy to read because he has such easy command of his scene, and he presents it so unpretentiously. The same goes for his other site, Create Digital Motion, which you really ought to be reading if you’re interested in the coolest thing in the world right now.
So I kept highlighting new passages from this GQ interview with Bill Murray to blockquote for a post, and by about the fifth one, I knew I would just have to tell you to go read the whole thing.
Go read the whole thing. It’s great fun.
P.S. Okay, I will tell you that in the interview, Bill Murray says he watches Current TV, and that it made me smile.
So, as you know, world-building has been a part of fiction–especially fantasy–for a long time. Think of Tolkien’s crazy maps, histories, languages. Think of Star Wars.
Here’s something awesome: Chris Wayan is a world-builder “more interested in planetary ecology than in narrative.” Interviewed by David Cole, he says:
One weekend in late 2001, I biked by a flea market behind Cellspace in the Mission District. I bought a globe for a few bucks. At home I started playing with it–pried it off its stand, tilted it so the tropics turned polar and poles turned tropical. Suddenly an intellectual problem snapped into focus: “We have one pole on land, one under the sea. So we have one cold pole–Antarctica–and one mild. Could Earth be tilted so we had two Antarcticas, or none? ARE there orientations where land or sea is under both poles? How would all that ice–or lack of it–affect sea level and climate?” It turned out there were a couple of solutions for each. So I got out my drill…
I love this. It’s totally related to counterfactual, but it takes it in a really interesting direction, towards ecology and systems-thinking. It also expands the whole endeavor–it’s not just words but maps, models, math.
Chris Wayan’s Planetocopia is here.