S01x09 – ghost type

Trying to think about what to say about this song and there is literally nothing inside my brain. BUT this week you get exclusive behind the scenes found footage of me whistling my ideas to myself, which is excruciatingly cringe. But overall I’m going to give this song a solid B+ this week.


you started out at dusk
a broken caravan
across the village bridge
an orange shirted man

falling at the walls
of Lacunosa Town
growing in the light
a shape without a sound

follow close behind you
infiltrate your strike
burning down your barriers, your safeguards and the like
your shadow is your ghost
you know

liko died and left you in unova by yourself
lampent in the corner, you can leave tomorrow

Using AI to Ruin the Blank Page

Ugh, listen. Lyrics is killing me. Definitely the most difficult part of my music-making workflow each week. I really enjoy (love, even) the other aspects – imagining & putting the song together, choosing the sounds, editing, EQ’ing, mixing, etc – but having to think of something to sing about, write lyrics about it, and then sing them is killing and realllly slowing things down.

This is clearly an area where “”AI”” could/would theoretically help, if AI was good and useful, which so far it is not. At the very least not for creative endeavors like this. There are things that ChatGPT is good/acceptable at, but pure creativity is not one of them.

But something to consider: there is something to be said about AI helping you get over the blank page, the initial creative hurdle of going from Nothing to Something. Lynda Barry, in her writing class covers this perfectly: the first step, when faced with a blank page, is to mark a big X across it. Now it’s already ruined, so whatever you write there will be fine, better than writing nothing. Whatever we write on the blank page could ruin it, but if it’s already ruined, we’re safe. We can put ideas there and not worry about whether they are “good” or not. Starting from a bad place, the “already ruined” place, makes it safer for your ideas to come forward.

ChatGPT is nowhere near being able to create good/useful/adequate lyrics, but it could conceivably give you Something that could get you over that initial hurdle, give you a Terrible First Draft from which you could only improve.

Very not interested in debates about AI generally, or what AI means, or whether it will destroy art & creativity, etc etc. But whatever your feelings about that are, there can be (are) practical applications that it works for, and it’s interesting (to me) to think about how it might be helpful in this one particular case.

Anyways I tried it with last week’s song (prompt was something like “song lyrics about being trapped in a haunted house”) and it gave me nothing even remotely usable, just complete trash that I could barely even read, much less take seriously. And anyways I’m not scared of blank pages, I’ve been writing too long for that. I just don’t enjoy the process of writing lyrics. I might try it again though.

So, that’s my thoughts on that! The end.

S01x08 – unleaving

We’re back, after a lot of offline life stuff. Tried something different this week, put all my thoughts into the actual episode instead of typing them here. Feedback welcome. Enjoy at your own risk.

Another attempt at a song that doesn’t rely on a formal chord progression (I forgot the name of the other song that was like this, it’s Twin Suns, still my pick for Worst Song Yet.)

lyrics (as I mention on the podcast, inspired heavily slash stolen from Spring & Fall by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

from the doorway to the basement
your betrothal, your replacement
ever after, if you plan to
with your fresh thoughts care for can you

your mouth heard / what your mind said
in a corner / by a dark bed
where the best tool / was a blood test
when your heart heard / what your ghost guessed

someday you will leave me someday soon

S01x07 – shadowself

ummm what can I tell you. Super weird how the song sounds a certain way and you write the lyrics to match it and then when it you put it all together it sounds completely different? idgi. This song was pure 90s MBV-core as an instrumental* but then once I recorded the lyrics…idk. “emo beach boys” is I think how I described it in my journal.

*Prior art:

  • Swirlies – 2 Girls Kissing
  • Difference Engine – 5 Listens
  • Autolux – Here Comes Everybody

Anyways, I’m more abandoning this one than finishing it. It didn’t quite come together the way it seemed it was until it was too late to do anything but watch it disappear over the rails.

Things that went well this week:

  • Recording the guitars and bass! Pretty cinchy actually.
  • Vocal mixing! Feeling pretty good about my EQ/compression/reverb chain. I feel like my ear can hear the things happening in the mix a lot better than even a few weeks ago.
  • idk, something. I mean it’s always fun, so whatever.

Things that did not:

  • My singing! Ugh! Should I take lessons?
  • I know how to write music, lyrics, and a melody, but there’s something about making all three work together that I feel like I’m missing. Hard to describe.
  • idk friends, just the way it came together. I was really excited until I wasn’t.

Anyways! I can tell you now I’ve got a bunch of offline stuff going on over the next week so no update next week. Maybe we could BOTH use the time off.


My heart is doing too much
But they say my heart doesn’t do anything

Spend a year asleep
This is not the you who stayed inside
Filming your back slide
(Maybe try a different therapy)
Spend a year alone
(Maybe retrain your neuropathy)
Deleting all your pictures from online
(Ask your doctor now about)
Tracking your decline

I wear these wires
But don’t connect to anything
Hiding from people I used to like

This is not you this
Is not you this is
Not you this is not
You this is not you

S01x06 – they dispute my bionics

This is definitely not a finished track but I ran out of time, plus I was able to make decent enough progress on the things I am trying to make progress on, so, good enough.

Big news this week, I found some very helpful EQ & Compression presets from Cellar Door Sound. I still don’t totally understand thresholds and ratios, but clicking through and trying these different options is helpful in training my ear for what to listen for. I think the vocal mix is better this week and this is a big reason why. I also used their suggestion of putting the reverb on its own track to mix it better, which was revelatory, and very different from how the many other youtube tutorials I’ve watched on the topic of reverb approached it.

Side note: part of my learning process necessarily involves watching a lot of youtube tutorials and I find there is a strict and low upper limit on how many I can watch and ingest in a given week. They’re helpful but they’re not THAT interesting and it’s hard to remember which one gave you what suggestions so I watch & follow maybe 2/week and that’s it. More than that is mentally exhausting for me/my learning style.

Even though most of what I’m trying to learn and get better at involves vocal editing, I just want to say that the guitar part is my favorite part of this song. It was added relatively late – I had an idea for it right before bed one night, made some notes about it on my phone. That idea didn’t work very well when I applied it the next morning, but it led to what you hear, which for me works great. Good lesson there about how the good creative ideas don’t happen up front – even if you think your initial idea is The Good Idea, it’s not until you start down the path from there that you get to the Really Good Shit.

Here are the lyrics in case you’re curious (yes I only ever write about the internet, what can I tell you)

Everything you say to me / I can save for later
My consciousness adaptable / (like) opinions from a hater
Comment unsolicited / Unless you’re uninvited
People don’t believe you when your references are cited

Saved by venture capital / Informed by inner trauma
Defenses are habitual / Built for ending drama
Application protocol / Had to take it further
Viruses decloaked from an unfederated server

Watch as I deploy my new extendable arm
As I chill on the couch while causing bodily harm
My third eye laser beam was sponsored by big pharm-a
All my haters insides cooked like eggplant parm-a
I’m more machine than man / you don’t hear me complainin’
I learn from all your failures / that’s just part of my trainin’
To never share my insights / that would be a cop-out
(Rolls Royce pull up / black boy hop out)

I am a little embarrassed about the rap section, this is not me headed boldly into a career in hip hop, but a) I want to learn to mix different styles of vocals (and vocal effects), and b) it felt like the song called for it, and c) I’ve just been listening to a lot of Tyler the Creator lately, he’s one of the artists that inspire me most, hence me including that line from his song Lumberjack at the end there.