Transcription: 0329 - Doug Bielmeier

Released: June 7, 2020

Darwin: Okay. Today, I have an opportunity to meet somebody new; his name is Doug Bealmeier. And he has got a couple of things that really tweaked my interest. One is his choice in instruments, but also the sound of the work he does really caught my attention and caught my ear. So I'm looking forward to getting a chance to learn more about Doug's work and to actually get some details about how he does what he does. So with no further ado, let's say hello to Doug. Hey Doug, how's it going?

Doug Bielmeier: Hello. Thanks so much for having me on here and thanks for those kind words right off the bat.

Darwin: I'm in the lucky position, when people ask about being on the podcast, I get to choose the people whose work I'm kinda into. The work that you've put out there, for people who aren't, aren't familiar with it. Why don't you give a quick overview of the breadth of the work that you do?

Doug: Yeah, so is it electronic music? Is it electro-acoustic music? Is it contemporary classical music? Is it - well, all those other categories? And I think that that's where I usually begin with it. That's how this all begins - that I have no idea what I'm actually doing. Or I know what I'm doing, I've been trained and I have skills and I've been practicing for many years, but I, I'm not really sure: am I my creating contemporary classical music? Am I creating electronic music? Is this ambient, is it drone music? Is it chill-out? Is it vapor wave, is it glitch? And I think the driving force for me is about sort of quieting and patience. So I think life and lives can be so chaotic and can be so out of our control. And so really the focus or the sound of my music is the sound of resting in one place in one moment for a certain period of time and just observing everything that there is in that moment. And I mean, that sounds really lofty, but that's this idea, that's the concept behind the materials that I use and the overall outcome that I'm looking for with these pieces that I create.

Darwin: Sure. That's really interesting. One of the things, first of all, I will say for the listeners, one of the things that really caught my attention is that your primary instrument is a lap steel guitar - I think the only other person that I've had on the podcast that uses lap steel is Robert Rich who uses it as source material for his synthesis. I mean, you do some of that. It may be that your primary instrument is audio processing, but nevertheless, lap steel is prominent in all. You're playing it. It's not a sideline. It's literally the thing that is your attention while you're playing. Why the lap steel?

Doug: Well, I think it's about communication. And, I think with especially electronic music, drone music, ambient music, I think things can get very esoteric very quickly. And, I always have this vision of my music being performed. I have a colleague, Michael Drews, he teaches down at IUPUI, he's a fantastic composer. And he talks a lot about, "Well, we can make anything in our basement. We can make anything in our studios, but how do we then communicate that to listeners, to an audience, to the, musical world? Like how, how can we express that?" And for me it's been performance and the idea that I'm going to go and somehow interpret this music that I created, live. And so I literally started thinking about - well, what's the best way to do that. Should I stand there with a laptop and press buttons on a laptop?

What are the different ways to do that? And, it went everywhere from: Should I be singing on stage? Should I be, as I mentioned, using a laptop? Should I be tap-dancing on stage? How am I going to communicate this music that can often be esoteric? And so I said, well, guitar has been done to the nth degree, you know? And so it fell in my lap, this idea of lap seal as an instrument I always really loved. And at the time I was working as a recording engineer in Nashville. And, if you know anything about recording in Nashville, it can be very, very formulaic and it can be about recording drums, then you record the parts of the backing track, and you're just building these similar structures.

And especially if you start working with songwriters who are just trying to pitch songs, it can get very, very formulaic, but there was always these moments when the lap steel guitarist, or even a pedal steel guitarist, would come into the studio with their contraption and they would just make these beautiful sounds that were so esoteric and electronic in nature. these swells. And you're like, "Where did that come from? Where's the initial attack?" They would be able to have this just niente sort of swell and without any attack. So it became very like OJ Sonore very quickly, where you're like, what is the object of this sound? So I was like, wow, what an interesting instrument.

And I would love to play that one day. And, I think the other thing is too, I've grown up as a vocalist and singing in choirs. And that's really - part of my background of music is vocal music. So the idea that the lap steel can be so expressive, like the human voice, and that you can really bend notes and you can kind of swell and glissando into things. I think then that can take something like a soundscape that has just this vast electronic sort of nowhere land. You can bring this lap steel in and it starts singing. And I think immediately people then can connect to that. And it kinda sounds like a guitar. And I feel like especially people from my generation, a lot of people - they know the guitar, the guitar is an old friends, sonically, for sure.

I think maybe more contemporary people, or some of the current generations, I think they maybe are less influenced by the guitar. I think, hip hop and, and specifically electronic music is more meaningful to them. So I do notice that my audiences are often, usually very young and then sometimes people my age, who grew up listening to early nineties grunge and punk who are into industrial noisy stuff, but still have this relationship with the guitar.

Darwin: Now, in addition to your performing and recording work, you also are, are an academic - you're an educator, right? And, where do you teach, what do you teach?

Doug: So I teach audio production at Northeastern University, and I teach in the music department there. I have taught at places where I've been part of a engineering or mechanical engineering or electrical engineering department. But I'm once again in a music department and I'm working within a degree called Music Industry. So, I'm dealing with... Yeah, we also do have a music technology program, which is more of the things that I'm interested in creating which is a little bit more electronic based using Ableton live and software like that. And Max, Max for Live and just regular old Max. However, I'm teaching a lot of Pro Tools and I'm teaching a lot of recording techniques, because that's part of my background, too. So I think that's interesting, but I think that also can put me in a silo as well, where it could make it harder to communicate even more because now I'm in this other academic silo, it's not like I'm, bustling for gigs somewhere downtown. I mean, I'm doing some of that, but I do have this steady thing, a job, a career that I'm doing teaching people about audio.

Darwin: Sure. I mean, the reason I'm curious is because when I was just doing some basic research on you, I saw that you were teaching, but I also noticed that you had done a number of papers that were talking about the value of music education or particularly music production education. And I thought that that was kind of interesting. And so I wanted to get a sense of how that meshed into the things that you were teaching. It's interesting that you come from a background of working in Nashville and then you move into that, because unfortunately, a number of people I know who have been through the Nashville sausage grinder have come out of it pretty disillusioned with the music industry and with doing music as a gig, right? You seem to have not rejected the music industry wholeheartedly - that's good to see!

Doug: Well, I think it can be a very different, there can also be a very different perspective, which I think I had probably earlier in my life or in my twenties. And that was that what I did as a composer and the training that I received that was somehow different than this music industry. And, I think that that can happen. I think sometimes in composition programs or for young composers, I think this idea that what they're doing is at this "other level" or this different level than what the common pop song requires - and, yeah, I did leave the Nashville scene, but being there, I didn't see any drop off in intensity and quality and rigor with creating the music there. I think there's sometimes this opinion that some types of music are more difficult or more challenging to create and invent.

And that's not the case. I think anyway, I walked away from this with a deeper appreciation of what it takes to write a fantastic pop song. And I think it can be really humbling if you're a composer who's learned to write orchestrel pieces or maybe has written an opera - I haven't, but, you can do that - but actually writing a three minute and 30 second pop song is extremely challenging and keeping a listener's attention for just... I mean, normally the beginning of an orchestral piece, I mean, the first three minutes, everyone's just warming up, you don't have to even get to your main idea for several minutes, but in pop music, the song is already over - it's over!

And you went through the whole arc, it could be a love song. So you've gone through the whole arc of: they met, they broke up and, now they're wiser for it or whatever, a rose smells just as sweet and you have to do all that in three and a half minutes. So I think then the idea is "I'm going to write an hour long electro-acoustic piece for piano and tape." I think the relevance of that for me, after working in the pop field and in industry, I think that the relevance of my music or that my place for the music that I was going to write - I think that became very important to me.

Darwin: That's really interesting. I want to dive into that some more in a bit, but before we get started, one of the things that I like doing in my podcast is learning more about people's background; and I am fascinated with where you're coming from, because you have your doctorate in music, but you have this background in Nashville, but you're teaching academically, but you're also exploring music that is - while experimental to a certain extent - it's not your typical academic music either. And so it's clear that you have a unique combination of interests and focii.

Darwin: You have these different things in play. And I am curious where that comes from. You must have a pretty interesting background to end up where you're at.

Doug: Well, first of all, in a very snarky comment that I'm about to make, thank you for saying that my music is not academic, but - and I say this tongue in cheek, and I'm not disparaging, other music that may be classified as academic - but I say thank you because I think what I'm trying to do as related to my background is incorporate all the experiences that I had. I think my background, if you want to talk about a classical composer background, I went to undergrad at the Hartt School (University of Hartford) and I studied with Robert Carl, and he was a fantastic - he's still is a fantastic composers, still composing there in Connecticut and abroad. His whole focus for me in those composition, the focus was do whatever you do, but do it well. And I think that's something that you tell a young composer.

I think that's something you tell them so that they can explore all the different things that they want to do. So I think from very early on, even being in an academic setting, my mentor was saying, we'll do whatever - try all these different things. You don't want to miss anything. There's so many different things you could do. But I think there was always a focus on doing something with the technology, because at the same time I was also getting a degree in a sound recording technology or music production technology. And so I think there was always this emphasis to use that. And sometimes I was like, "Hey, man, I just want to write a string quartet, like, just like leave me alone, man."

"I want to, I just want to write acoustic music", and they're like, "Yeah, but you do a string quartet, but also write a patch in Max for it as well!" So there's some sort of infernal machine happening behind the string quartet or something. And so I think that part of my background is to sort of, I think that's part of the education that I received and the mentorship I received from Robert Carl was this concept of including a lot of things and not discounting anything. I don't think it was until I went to Bowling Green and started studying with Elainie Lillios that I really appreciated what electronic music or what acousmatic music or electro-acoustic music really was and how specialized the thing it was. I remember at that age going to many concerts and festivals of electronic music, and I would sit through a lot of the music and - I referenced this earlier - but, there would be these hour long just piano and tape pieces, or it would just be a tape piece, which is a multi channel diffusion electronic piece for an hour.

I didn't get that. I didn't get how that was a thing. And I didn't believe that anyone else in the audience, which were mostly other academics, I couldn't believe that they actually enjoyed that. Like I just couldn't. But I bet they did, and I'm not disparaging that music or the people that enjoy that music in any way, but I just couldn't get that. So I think that's what led me to industry and led me back to, you know, fall on my recording and audio recording and music production education, and go into industry. And I moved to DC after grad school and I was looking for work. The first real job that I found was an opportunity to work at this small studio in Alexandria, Virginia, which is right outside of DC. And it was a hip hop studio and it was a vocal booth studio - which is basically just a sound booth - and there was a computer and some hardware, and they basically just had rappers and R&B singers, just... it was a hip hop studio.

And so I came then from this background of the classically trained and I'm this white kid that grew up in suburban Buffalo. So it was just a whole different world to me. And unfortunately the first thought I had in my head was this is not at the level, or this is not the music that I had been just creating an academia. This was something else for a paycheck. And there's a lot of things mixed in that. There's a little bit of racism mixed in that, but there was that thought. And as I started working at this job, I started working with these artists that came into the studio that were just so passionate about what they did. And this was a passion that I saw in a lot of the academic music that I had experienced before.

People would get in an argument about [if] this was the correct way to recreate this Bach - like you don't do the trills or you do this, or you don't... and it would just like get heated, you know? And you're like, "Are we still talking about music here?" And so I saw that passion that they had. And I think that made me realize I really had to reassess what music was, what it was to people and what it was to me. And so I think that goes into the music that I create today is that I can't - I don't want to discount groups or types of music. I don't want to say that. There's a fantastic station called The Drone Zone. It's on SomaFM and they just have wonderful music on there.

And it's so funny, the pieces you can very easily be like: Oh, well, this is a electro artist that did a drone or an ambient piece, or, here's somebody who's slumming it here doing drone music. Like you can start getting into that, all the hierarchy and class that's involved in music, but really, I want to be in a place where I can step back and just say, "Wow, this is music that is communicating to me, and I'm not sure where it came from or what the intent was, but it's still communicating to me." And therein lies its value to, at least to me.

Darwin: That's really interesting. I mean, boy, there's a lot to unpack in all that stuff. First of all, I want to make sure that we honor what the kind of self-learning and self-revelations that you had to go through. I think that it's actually really hard for people to come out of a heavy duty academic thing and not have a - I don't want to use this phrase in an unwarranted way, and I will reserve the right to bail on this at some point in the future. But, there's an opportunity to come out with a level of pomposity that makes you not viable in the rest of the musical realm. And so by coming out of school and dropping yourself into this DC hip hop studio, that had to be a great way to just make sure that wasn't the way your future was going to look, right?

Doug: Yeah. I think it was, I think it was so eyeopening and it was so different, not just musically, but then also culturally and even just the idea of being a staff engineer. I mean, that is a whole different world than being a composer or even being a student. I mean, a student can be a very passive situation sometimes where being a staff engineer basically is just baptism by fire. I mean, it's organized chaos.

Darwin: And it's all about speed an efficiency, too. Right?

Doug: Sure. And, and then also interpreting people's moods and there's a psychological aspect of being able to say, "Okay, this person is not giving me a good take or they don't seem comfortable." And sort of being sensitive to that. I think we have this idea of the composer who like locks themselves in a tower and then doesn't care if the piece is impossible to play because it's their opus and the world hasn't grown enough yet to appreciate their music. And I think working as a staff engineer, you're part of the service industry and you realize that that what you're doing is, like you said, it has to be fast and efficient and it has to sound good. But, it also has to be done with some consideration to the clients that you're working with. It's funny. I don't think we often stereotypically see a composer worrying if the violinist has - if their arm is getting tired or if their hands are getting tired, Traditionally we don't see that.

Darwin: Yeah. So getting back to the music that you do, and the you work on now, one of the things I noticed on your site was you talk about this idea of windowing - and windowing seems like a kind of a personal technique that you've come up with that has to do with taking material and how you manipulate it as part of your process. Can you explain a little bit more about what that is?

Doug: I think, we're, we're in an age of postmodernism, maybe post-postmodernism and the idea of reusing material or referencing older material. I think definitely this comes from my education in hip hop where sampling and use of audio as sort of a commodity, or even as an object within itself - like this break or this hook - is something that you can use to build another building, or in this case, a song or a composition. And so I think the whole windowing process looks at music and specifically sound (and sound files) as building blocks and not so much as... So it's odd: when I'm listening to a Bach cello suite, I'm listening to it as "It's awesome! It's Bach, it sounds great!", but I'm also really in tuned to the recording, or the way in which this was recorded.

How is that affecting my experience? And, there's a very different experience that you'll have. If you're listening to Pablo Casals' original Bach Cello Suites, with all the noise and ambiance of the way in which that was recorded, that's going to be very different than a Rastapovich recording that you may hear, where it's perfectly recorded in a really nice space or concert hall. And so the way that the quality, or the character of the actual recording, I think that for me - I really believe that that can have a visceral or emotional response. So, you could sample someone's singing, or you can take a little bit of someone singing, and if it's something that's familiar or has some background or some basis for the listener, or some context, it can have a really, powerful effect.

So the idea of windowing is really that is taking small pieces of these found sounds and divorcing the context in some way, so that we're either repeating them very quickly. So we're taking very small windows of very small snippets using reverb or some process of diffusion to smooth them out. And the idea is then it becomes this other soundscape and this other background. And my first album a few years back, I finally like got everything together and said, "Okay, I need to put out an album here. I need to do this." It is called Betty And The Sensory World. And Betty And The Sensory World is literally 60 minutes of this windowing process. So it's just, it's this very diffuse landscape that slowly moves over that 60 minutes. And it truly is drone music, I think in its core it's very passive music. It's meant for the listener to sit there, listen to it and just become the mood that the music is creating, or even [let] their mind wander, or they're doing something else. And it becomes background to what they're doing.

Darwin: Well, I have to tell you that my experience listening to the Betty album was kind of that - first of all, I ended up writing down after listening to it - and literally, I was listening to it and my mind was wandering, looking out the window across the street. And it was really that, right? But after I listened to that, I ended up writing down that this music has "space", not as an adjective, but as a noun, right? It's like it is almost a sound of space. There's something about it that transcends the "adjective space" that you get with reverbs and delays and all that stuff. And there's something more elemental that draws me into thinking of it as space in terms of the noun - of the space around us or the greater space of the galaxy. And I was really curious about what it was that you were doing that left that feeling in my head.

Doug: I think it comes from, at that time, I was doing a lot of biking. I was living in Indianapolis and I was doing a lot of biking outside. It was a transitional time in my life and biking and just being outside for hours and hours on in this really flat place. And with like just the wind, you always had a headwind, no matter which direction you were biking in, for some reason the wind was never at your back! And at first I resented that and then I eventually said that is [what is] great about Indiana. Is that either way there's a headwind and that in some ways is challenging and is good. But that idea of just like getting out of the day to day grind and being outside and having the wind blowing on your face, that's what I wanted the album to feel like.

That's what I wanted it to express. And honestly, it's the highest compliment that you can tell me you were listening to the album and you were just like started, you got looking out the window and you got contemplating and thinking, that's sort of what that album was about. It was about passive music and it was about very slow change. And using the windowing process, I'm able to create these very, very long ideas, but at the same time, because of what it's made up of, you're still having this like nostalgia, this attachment to it. And then your mind starts to wander, you start to give up trying to...

I think like sometimes when people listen to it, for the first like 20 minutes, they're really trying to pay attention. Like: "I'm going to stay in the moment and I'm just going to listen to this and I'm following everything here. I'm reading the score..." And usually by like 30 minutes, everyone just lets go. And I can tell they're having a whole other experience within that experience. And that, to me, I'm like "Great!" They're out on the bike with me, then they're out biking and they're just relaxing and they're doing... Some people do laundry! A lot of people tell me it is great to do laundry to your album. So I mean, and that's so funny too. Cause if you think about the composer and it's like, everyone will sit captive in the audience and hear my genius. That's not what the album's about. It's about you listening to it and what it does to you or what it can do for you in, in tasks or things that you're already doing. So thanks so much. That's such a great compliment to hear that you were kind of listening, but then also just thinking and, and letting your mind wander.

Darwin: Well, you know what, maybe you're missing a great marketing opportunity here, because if you think about it - Brian Eno named an album Music For Airports, and eventually someone put it in an airport, right. Maybe if you called it like Music For Laundries, you'd end up with a nice side business.

Doug: Yeah. I really need to get in touch with a marketing person because I think that's a fantastic idea. I'm just not marketing correctly. Yeah. I love Brian Eno's Music For Airports. That's a huge inspiration. As far as ambient music or drone music, I think he coins it ambient music, [it's] fantastic music. It's about passivity of the listener and just taking it in. And there's not this requirement to listen to every note and be focused - it meets you halfway. And I think that's a lot of what his ambient music does. Of course he was also a very prolific producer as well. And some of the great albums of the eighties and nineties, I mean, he was the producer and head engineer on as well. So yeah, it would be great to be Brian Eno,

Darwin: What a life. Now having listened to your more recent record, which is called Beast of Bodmin Moor, right? I think I'm saying it right. You talk about your music is being drone-like, and I guess I can see that, I didn't get... In listening to the Betty And The Sensory World album. I didn't get a sense of droniness as much as like ambiance and space, right? The Beast album had a little bit more of what I would think of as drones because, to me, drones have a tendency to be locked on specific tones for a period. And so there's a little bit more of that, but I would say that listening to the "Beast" album, it sounded to me like it was where the "Betty" album sounded like a whole, the "Beast" album sounded like a bunch of different tracks and it also sounded divorced from any single process. I mean, was there like an expansion in your technique or maybe in your instrument choices? Or what was changed between those two albums?

Doug: Well, I think that's fantastic. And it's a really observant how you mentioned that there's this difference in approach. I like the idea that Betty And The Sensory World is like this whole or like this one space, this one idea. And, Beast of Bodmin Moor was more about smaller ideas. And I think really the whole impetus for it was: okay, now I'm playing this music live. And I really think in a public setting, playing Betty And The Sensory World beyond an installation type piece, I think it's difficult to reproduce that and to capture, have an audience and sort of communicate consistently. So that's actually really where the lap steel came into it. That's when I started using that, this was a few years back and I said, okay, now this is going to be a way to connect.

But I think the big difference between Beast of Bodmin Moor and Betty And The Sensory World is that in Bodmin Moor, I really wanted these specific events to happen. I think of Betty And The Sensory World, it's this very long thing. And sometimes you go back and reference something that happened earlier. But a lot of times you're just in that moment or space where with Beast of Bodmin Moor, it was about having time to let the listeners mind wander, but also having really specific events that bring them back and bring their attention back. So Beast of Bodmin Moor - I've performed several times live, in different, even sometimes one song or just one set of songs from that. And that tends to work a lot better in a performance venue. And of course, I'm not talking about a classical venue.

I don't think I've ever had a place where people are sitting. I think they're usually standing, maybe sometimes they're drinking a coffee or whatever. And it's a little less engaged audience. I've played at several art galleries, which is a really interesting experience because at first, no one's listening to you, which is such the opposite of when I'm 18 and composing music at an academic program. I'm like, people will hang on every word - and this, sometimes I have to warm them up. It takes 10 minutes for them to be like, "What's going on over there? There's like a lap steel and these visuals are pretty cool. And what's going on in the background? It sounds like a CD skipping. Like what, what, what is this?" And then eventually they're drawn into it. So I think Beast of Bodmin Moor was more about balancing the spaciousness or the vastness of Betty And The Sensory World with some real specific events to draw people in.

Darwin: Got it. That makes sense. And I can see where it sets you up to be able to perform something, consistently, and you must be bridging a gap between improvisational performance and classical, prewritten, string quartet stuff. You're somewhere in the middle there, but it does make sense to build something where you actually have the ability to perform. What is the process of taking this recorded work and moving it live? I mean, how much compromise do you have to make and how do you change it to make it more viable in a live situation?

Doug: Well, so the big thing is a lot of this can all just be generated via just a laptop, playing an audio file back. I mean, it can really be, like, even the Davidovsky, which I'm not diminishing his work in any way, but a lot of times it was a concrete tape part. And then just an instrument. And in some of the Synchronisms, there was sound reinforcement on the instruments. Sometimes there was processing, but a lot of times you have this concept of an acoustic instrument and then the tape part. And so you can really keep it simple. It could have been that simple, this idea that I'm just playing lap steel on stage. And then my laptop is barfing out windowing - or music - and it can be doing that.

And it can be doing that in real time, or it could just be doing that as a sound file. So I could literally be playing along to a "karaoke track". I knew I didn't want to do that because I still think having the audience be able to understand the relationship between the laptop or the part that you're not making live or that you're not bringing to life. And the relationship between the physical thing that you are doing and the performance space, I think having that connection exist is really important for the audience. And so it can be as simple as them seeing me playing a lap steel, they hear a lap steel, they know I'm creating that lap steel in that space. And then they're hearing other things. The big thing that I started incorporating is a foot switches and triggers because it was very important for the audience to see that I was somehow physically changing the other things that they couldn't see on stage.

And I think I just saw the way audiences responded to [it], if I was pressing the space bar on a laptop, the audience was like, "Okay, what's going on?" But if I was hitting a foot switch or using some other type of lever or device, I think then immediately, they were like, "Okay, wait, this is something that is very organic, it's happening very live. And this is something that the performer is doing for us right now." And I think there's some excitement to that. And I don't think we'll ever lose that excitement of: "This could just be an absolute clown shoes. This could just be destroyed onstage. We could watch the speakers melt. This is going to be awesome." Or maybe, "Maybe the performer will survive and it will be the greatest performance we ever saw. like that type of excitement!"

I think if we're just hitting a space bar up on stage, I think we lose that excitement. So I think that the process is to have some elements. I had some Max elements that were creating windows live on stage. I have some things that are just prerecorded. I have some effects that are preset to automate at certain times in the set. I have a video component and usually the video component is fixed throughout. However, I've been doing a lot of collaboration with video artists who are interpreting (or improvising) with video synths live, while I'm doing that. And that adds a whole other way to communicate to the audience, especially people who are more artistically inclined than musically. I think they can really be interested in this sort of video synth and video images.

So I think it's just all stems from two... I think if you go and see a pop show today or any kind of music of today... there's a great venue here in Harvard that I go down to: the Sinclair in Harvard Square, they have all types of shows and I've seen shows there where it's literally the lead singer of the group and a backing track. And they're just like singing to a backing track. And then I've seen bands where the whole band is playing. And then I've seen ones, which I think are the really interesting ones, where the exciting things and the risky things are being played live, and then other things are backing tracks. And those are, I thin, the most exciting ones. Cause you're like, Yeah, I know that guitar part is hard to pull off or is that the vocal, which is like expressing all the emotion like that thing that's live, but we don't need that one synth that happens in the third verse - like that does that doesn't need to happen live on stage.

Darwin: Interesting. Well, unfortunately our time is already up, but before we go, the one thing that surprised me when you were talking about your background is the discussion is the fact that you started off, and you're very comfortable as, a vocalist. (I'm sorry. I have the tree guys from hell outside my window here. So I apologize to everyone who's listening to my neighbor get his tree cut down, but Oh my God...) So much for social distance, I guess it's a social distance,v because you have to be one tree fall away from the guy, but anyway...

Doug: And you don't want to get too close to somebody with a sharp object. You keep your distance anyways. I think normally in life you'd keep six feet away from somebody with it.

Darwin: Right. Good point. So you talked about though having this background and coming from being a vocalist, but one of the things I would say is that I don't really hear any vocal stuff at all in the music that you do. Is it just something that you've never found a way to mesh into your work or is it something you're saving for some master work in the future or is it just...?

Doug: Yes, yes. Right. I revealed that. It's all part of it's this long, 15 year plan that they'll write about. Yeah, it's a really great point. It's a really great point. And it's funny - for all the training and all the experience and the fact that I train and teach other people. I approach music in such a naive way. It's almost like I'm discovering things that I probably should have figured out a long time ago. And we talked about Betty and that being sort of my first really strong statement about what I wanted to do musically, and then in Beast of Bodmin Moor, I said, no, I need to start incorporating lap steel and I need to incorporate these other things. And it's funny, you mentioned vocals because that's also something that singing in choirs and I was always the baritone voice.

So I was always sitting in the middle of the harmony and hearing the soaring parts above me. And couldn't go as quite as low as the basses. And being able to kind of get a sense of harmony and, you know, collectiveness and music and collaboration. That's something that I think my music is missing right now. And, over the past few years, I've been collaborating a lot more with other musicians and other artists, because I guess I miss the idea of vocal music, which is, and especially choir music, which is a collaborative thing. And so I think, yeah, I think the next music and the music that I'm working on now, I went out and I purchased a nicer vocal microphone and I've been working on pre-amps and creating an environment where I can capture my voice in a sonically meaningful way.

And I think that's the next step for me is I want to honor any kind of background that I had, I think I'm incorporating hip hop with sampling and using found sound. I think I'm also honoring some of the early electronic music background in classical composition, but yeah, I think I would like to experiment more with getting my own vocals into music and then also doing that live because I think that would be yet another element that would be interesting. I think if you see this like burly like 6' 2" guy standing up on stage playing lap steel, kind of acting cool. I think that's one thing, but then, if you start singing in falsetto that that might create this well, other dynamic.

Darwin: It would change people's approach to you, right? So you have more to come on that I think. Well, Doug, I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to have this chat. It was really great to learn more about where you're coming from and to also learn some details behind some of this stuff. I have to admit, I remain fascinated by your background and all the different things that you've done. It just sounds like you've had a pretty amazing trip so far. So, thank you so much for sharing with us.

Doug: Thanks so much for having me.

Darwin: Alright. Well with that, I'm going to let you have the rest of your day and let my tree guys get back to work here. Have a good one, man!

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