Thursday, September 3, 2020

Derek Brown


There's a difference between hearing and listening. I think most of us hear a lot of music throughout the day, in the car radio, the grocery stores, elevators, commercials, etc. It probably is becoming more rare these days to actually LISTEN to music, where we're focused on the music, listening to the lyrics, song form, etc. And I'm not judging anybody, because I'm the same way. We have such short attention spans and there's SO MUCH media out there coming at us all the time, it's hard to sit down and focus on listening to something a lot of times. But that's why live concerts are so important these days. Going to a live show forces us to sit down and focus on watching and listening to a something that we paid for; that we got into the car and drove specifically to hear. But it also forces us to break away from the mundane of going through the everyday emotions; forces us to FEEL human again. 

A lot of people have assumed I combined the two loves of my life together: beatboxing and saxophone. However, that's not really the case (especially since I've never really ever beatboxed vocally before)! Instead, I had a very normal American music upbringing: playing in concert band and jazz band in high school, and then majoring in classical and jazz saxophone in college. It was only then that I heard various musicians making interesting percussive sounds on their instruments. And never really knowing whether I was more of a classical or jazz or pop saxophonist, I just starting messing around with the instrument. Adding musical things here and there, not knowing where it might lead. Over the years I slowly evolved my playing style, learning to "slap tongue" from contemporary classical saxophone, to hit the instrument from watching fingerstyle guitarists, experimenting with multiphonics from avant garde jazz players, getting my feet involved with stomps from playing the drum set, and even singing while playing since, well...guitarists and pianists do it all the time. Why not on the sax??

(Advice for getting started) Listen to a lot of music and learn particularly the chords of your favorite stuff, by ear preferably. I'm very chord/harmony driven, so I usually start there, coming up with chord progressions that sound good to me. People might find this unusual since I play a very non-chordal instrument, the saxophone, that can only play one note at a time. But maybe that's another reason I play like I do, I'm trying to treat the saxophone like a chordal instrument, like a piano or guitar!

But anyways, I like to improvise around with bass lines and chord progressions until I find something I like. Then I'll add a melody on top, repeating this process for other sections of the song (like verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, etc). 

And the most important thing I've learned with composition is, it's NEVER going to be perfect or even as good as your best song, but that's okay! Just keep writing in whatever system works for you. I often struggle with this perfectionist attitude, and so I often have to absolutely force myself to finish a darn song! I even started a Twitch channel where I would write a song in 90 minutes, and it wouldn't matter what came out on the other end, as long as I finished it!

As much as people say it, it's totally true: Only pursue music as a profession if it totally consumes your life; if it's all you can imagine doing. When you're young, explore it! Have fun with it! But when it's time to pick a career, just know that it's NOT easy. Even someone like me who has millions of Youtube videos and has played in over 30 countries and all 50 states; it's still a daily struggle to keep things moving forward constantly. 

But I do think there is a secret to success; maybe even guaranteed success. SUSTAIN IT! Millions of people have sought out a career in music but only a few make it, solely because they stuck with it, through the inspired and (mostly) uninspired times. So the million dollar question, I think, becomes 'How do you sustain a career?' I think it takes 3 things: Stay healthy, keep things challenging, and keep things fun! If you can keep these three things up, you won't get bored, you'll keep growing, and you'll be able to physically keep going!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Sangeeta Kaur

The hope of the hopeless

I don't tend to follow the news so much just because it is just so heavy. I hear it through my husband, he does follow it. We know there is so much tragedy out there, all things imaginable, and yet sometimes it does not seem real because we are not experiencing it first hand or seeing it right in front of us. Some things that pop out though, with the teens and the children and all of these things that are happening in schools, violence and shootings, and depression, suicide, its just unreal, it feels like "how did we get to this place? what is driving our youth to this place of such deep suffering, what are we doing wrong?"

It is not their fault, especially the young ones, they are just born into this world. They are shown what they
are shown, they have the life that they have. Some are less fortunate than others, some may have some
emotional imbalance. We need to really give more attention to the youth and their internal struggles, and
look at what we are doing as adults in our society that is for children. It was really hitting me hard, thinking
we just can't continue like this. The album COMPASSION came from that place, caring for others, looking
out for our children, looking out for the youth. For me, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is someone very special,
everything for him is about love and compassion. Just recently he had announced this new program where
they want to bring curriculum into the schools called Seeing Learning ( where
they can teach about compassion, and empathy, and relationships with one another, teaching how to
communicate to one another, understanding our feelings. You know, this whole new curriculum for some
schools being added, teaching kids to connect to their feelings, and to other kids with feelings, and you
know we really need that!

We are teaching our kids math and science and technology and history and all of that, but we are not teaching them to connect to who they are, and to each other. We are not teaching them compassion. And that is actually human nature, we want to connect. So this album really reflects all of these ideas and feelings that I had for a long time and it was really a dedication to His Holiness and the dedication and the work that he is doing, and to all people, all beings. Just trying to collect more of that into our consciousness.

Music is the connection to the source, it is the sound vibration, it is the direct connection to source, the direct connection to God, the direct connection to your higher self. It is the sweetness in everything. It is like dessert after dinner (laughter), music is sweetness!

For me what it means to be an artist really finding what your message is, and in the beginning when we are so young we are just creating something innate, something natural just happens, you kind of go with what you are loving and feeling connected to. For me when I was younger I just loved music, I just loved it! I was drawn to it and I loved the human voice, I loved hearing all the nuances of what the voice does to create such beauty. Eventually I felt like I can see the mechanism inside the body, the throat and the mouth and the breath. For me that was something I became very fascinated with. As I grew up and had my own life experiences, and went through all that I went through, when I finally kind of woke up and had a stronger consciousness I knew that being an artist was a huge responsibility, if I wanted to take it seriously and really go forth with it, because as we see music, visuals, film, all of these sensory stimulating things, it is powerful. It affects our emotions, our thoughts, our ideas about beings, we are so sensitive to all of these. Being an artist is a big responsibility. What we decide to put out in the world will somehow affect one person, or many people. I really try to be clear about what my message is, and really focus on having an impactful message, one that can really affect someone positively, bring some light into their world, inspiration, upliftment. That is just MY goal in the work that I do. As an artist I feel like when we get to that point we ask ourselves what is our message, what do we want to say to the world and ask ourselves does our message help others? And if it doesn't, how do we feel about that? Is it just for us, or for others, and do we want to choose a message that will impact the world in a positive
way, because we have to know that it will impact at least just one person in this world that will hear it or see it or experience it. So, as an artist I think it is important just to really be responsible, and clear.

When I look back at my childhood there were no accidents, everything was perfection up to this point, all the positive aspects, all the negative aspects were all good at the end. I am Vietnamese and coming from a Vietnamese family, you don't, especially from my parent's generation, immigrating from Vietnam after the war, you know, their idea was not "Let's raise musician children." No, we need to have better foundations, stability, we don't want our children to suffer and struggle like we did, all out of love. But even though that was their feeling initially and for many years, when I was really young one day my dad came home from work, and he brought home a VHS and he said "Oh, my co-workers said that I should bring this home and let you kids watch this. His kids really loved it” He popped it in, and I must have been about six, and he pops it in and it was "The Sound of Music!" And you know, if my little soul came into this world to become a musician and a singer, then that was like heaven to my ears and heart and mind, I watched that VHS over and over nonstop for days and weeks and learned every song and every nuance and every gesture. I really absorbed that music, and it was the first time I heard the voice used in that way. I was so drawn to it, and I think that was really the beginning, the beginning of the whole world of music and discovery. From that point on I remember going to school and just wanting to sing and get people together to sing. I was probably trying to copy "The Sound of Music" with the kids. I asked my parents and enrolled in violin and singing and choir, since I was six years old through to adulthood, I was in and never left, I was so so so inspired by music. My parents thought "Oh, she just loves music, and it is one of her hobbies, great! At least she is happy, but she is going to be a doctor or a lawyer." And so I did, I went to college and I was a biology major and I was minoring in music, and I took voice lessons for the first time when I was 18, and my teacher looked at me and said "Look, you have something, if you really want to pursue it, it is one or the other." And so for a year I just kept minoring in music and then finally I couldn't resist it, I dropped out of biology and went straight into music, and my parents, you know it took them a while to really accept it. I ended up getting my master's degree in voice performance, and they finally said "Okay, this is what she wants to do." Now they are completely supportive and have been so happy and there is nothing else in the world that I should be doing, so it is all good! And it brought them joy, and it brought a lot of other people joy, they see that "she has been called to do it."

It is the hardest thing to do, to pursue a career in the arts.

I teach Yoga as well, I teach Kundalini Yoga, a very powerful practice, a very beautiful practice, life changing. It really changed my life and brought me a new perspective, it made things very clear to me. I could not NOT share it with others. So in the midst of the world of music I share Kundalini Yoga especially with the Vietnamese community since the last almost ten years now.

My father's side, they are Buddhists, my mother's side they are Catholic. Both sides are not just sort of dabbling in it, they are hard core in their beliefs and their practice. So honestly, I am really grateful for that because I grew up going to the temple on one day and then the church the next day. You know it is written and taught, it is really important that children up to the age of eleven are extremely sensitive and open, no matter what they choose in their adult life, whatever spirituality they choose it doesn't matter, as long as we nurture them in their young life, expose them to spirituality, open them up to it. I really had that growing up, I really didn't follow any of it at all until I became an adult, I didn't feel that it was really "it" yet, until I discovered Tibetan Buddhism. I remember sitting in my first meditation class, it was that moment when everything you are hearing, you have been trying to find those words to say, to explain, I really felt like I came home to something that my heart knew, my soul knew, it resonated so deeply, it made so much sense to me, and then I just could not stop wanting to learn more and more and more.

Sound Bath Meditation

Nowadays a sound bath is so popular, it is as available as a Yoga class now. It is the most healing, most beautiful experience. You basically are in a room, and lying down, and nowadays it has evolved a bit since a decade ago that I remember from when I first started going. Basically you are in a beautiful space, you are asked to relax and the instruments that can be used are gongs, from large sizes to small and it could be crystal singing bowls, Tibetan bowls, these beautiful sound creating instruments of all different shapes and sizes, even a vocalist can be there. The people who are playing these instruments are usually trained and they are hypersensitive to sound, creating sound therapy. When they play it, it is like a deep meditative experience, bringing these sounds to stimulate the cells of your body, your energy points, really bringing you to a state of neutrality and relaxation, and we know that when we come to that place of neutrality and relaxation things can actually move, energy can flow, balance can happen. Some of the scientific things are for example the gongs, we tend to use the pasi gongs, they are tuned to certain frequencies, a high frequency and low frequency. It is said that the sound of the gong is the replication of the sound of the universe. It is like our innate music, it is like the sound that our body and soul is vibrating in all the time. When we bring that sound onto planet earth, it is like we are coming home again, in that sound current, which really helps to release a lot of toxicity and stress in the body, it brings a lot of balance. It is a great thing if you have a busy life and you are super stressed, in a crazy environment all the time. Just surrender and let someone play these sounds for your body to heal, and your mind to heal. It is guided through sound, it does not have to have words, although if the practitioner decides to sing or make sound or say inspiring words. The human voice is an instrument in itself, and it can bring a lot of healing when the intention of the singer is in the right place and there is that purity.

Actually you will find a lot of recordings of the crystal singing bowls, you will find the gongs, you will find recordings of all sorts of sound elements. It still works, the frequency is much more powerful with it live, but with recordings the frequency is still there if it is recorded properly, and it still is very effective.

With my album Compassion I wanted to create that experience, it was inspired by "sound bath." That is why we brought in crystal singing bowls heard in a lot of the songs, it is very subtle but it does not need to be loud, just subtly there. I wanted to bring in a choir, and explore rhythmic elements and vocal sounds that are used for sound healing as well. So all the songs are basically created with the intent of making a sound bath with these elements of the voice and the crystal singing bowls. I feel really proud about the album, because it is my fourth album in the last four years. When I recorded Niguma, where Ardas Bhaee originated from, it was the first album I had recorded in four years, since my first solo album, Yoga is Love, I needed that break to develop more, to grow, to go deeper in my spiritual practice. It popped out four years later and now I am making an album a year, I can't stop. So for the last four albums, for me it felt like growing and finding a sound, finding my voice, finding the sonic feeling to it. With Compassion I feel like I arrived in a place that feels like home.

The video "Ardas Bhaee"

It is such a great space, the whole production was such a beautiful experience, with the collaborators, other composers, the orchestra, the choir, it was really really big and at the same time everyone who was on the production were amazing people, very kind, loving, talented, it was a fun and very rewarding experience. I feel like the sound, the music really reflects that, so I am really happy with it, it has gotten a lot of amazing reviews and several rewards already, and you know, just sitting with it now, and living with it, sharing it as much as possible, getting it out there, letting people experience it, has been great!

Thursday, October 31, 2019


Feel free to ignore accepted norms when it comes to music.
Don’t worry about playing other people’s music, create your own, the weirder the better!

I created Master/Slave Relationship (MSR) in Autumn of 1984 as an  industrial noise music and photographic project to explore my own interests in elements of emotional domination and submission, sex, and my obsessions. For more than twenty years I have self-produced a unique brand of industrial music and art. In that time I’ve released more than ten cassettes, one vinyl LP, five CDs and one CD-ROM. MSR has never performed live and has no intention of ever doing so. MSR was conceived primarily to express and explore my interests in extreme behaviour and thought.

From 1982 to 1988 I created experimental avantgarde music as Viscera with Hal McGee and together we created Cause And Effect which was a cassette-only music mailorder outlet in the Midwest. During that time we sold over 10,000 cassettes via mailorder before the days of the internet (yeah you had to write for a catalog through the postal mail and wait a week or two to receive it then send a check in the mail to place your order, no internet, imagine that).

I’m an artist, musician, photographer, graphic designer, and webmistress – completely self-taught in Photoshop and html/css code. I design and manage everything you see on this website ( I’m a geek.

My interests are more varied and wide-ranging than anyone could imagine and include a keen interest in mid century modern art and style, performance art, Dada, Tristan Tzara, Hans Arp, Man Ray, abstract expressionism, the infinite power of the subconscious mind, all forms of music, all things Apple including the iPhone and iMac. I’m always learning, exploring, reading about new things and ideas. I’m currently studying french. I also co-founded in 1996.

In a fit of partial insanity I landed on the concept of MSR and so far (30+ years) it’s sticking. I am pleased with what it has become and feel reasonably confident of it’s future direction. The idea of personal themes blended with music and dark abstract expressionist art in this way is appealing to me. The decision to put all my inner thoughts and emotional grief and experiences into music was a natural one for me. This decision led me down a strange and interesting path of typical and not-so-typical experiences.

In San Francisco, where I lived for 8 years, there was an atmosphere of edgy sexual tension. I tried to forget how narrow minded the rest of the country was. Growing up in the midwest (Indiana and Iowa) I knew all too well how stifled the attitudes were with regard to anything unusual or provocative, not necessarily sexual. When you live in San Francisco, at some point eventually, you tend to start thinking that the entire United States of America is just like San Francisco – open minded anything goes.

I had my own arguments with myself. I always have arguments with myself. I wrestled with the idea of not continuing to do MSR, or drastically changing it’s focus away from fetish themes and imagery. Yes, I’ve wrestled with myself on this subject.

Emotion wins out over reason. It always does.

I moved to Los Angeles in April 2009. I’m concentrating on visual art and music and running my businesses. I also am writing lyrics and recording music, scheduled for release sometime in the future, as well as several abstract film ideas, not to mention a separate website devoted to all of my other art (writings, photography, ideas, inventions) that are not related to MSR specifically – I was also the original webmistress for the website for Stephen Holman.

Q What have been your most important musical or artistic discoveries?

By far, Dada made the biggest impact on me. I discovered it when I was in my teens and it changed the way I looked at life, art, and music. I found it listening to Talking Head’s Fear of Music. The first song on Side One being I Zimbra with lyrics by Hugo Ball. I became intrigued why they would choose to start the album out with someone else’s lyrics and did some research and found out who Ball was. After that my life was different.

Q Is music a good choice of vocations, or is it a compulsion, or something else?

It certainly was never a vocation for me, and I never looked at it as that. I was realistic enough to know I wouldn’t make a living doing such weird underground music. I did it because I was inspired and compelled to do it.

Q Does the album cover come about during or after the music has been imagined?

Usually I would create the music first, then start to get a feel for the cover graphics and titles. I taught myself to do graphic design and photography, so those elements were (and still are) important to me. Back then I burnished letters with Letraset for cassette cover, catalogs, flyers, etc. It was painstaking tedious work but I love design. It’s a lot of what I do now. Put me in front of Photoshop with something special to design and I’m happy.

Oh -- here is my URL:


Master/Slave Relationship on Bandcamp

Hal McGee

Cause and Effect

Black Metal

Chance Process

Stephen Holman Art

International Dada Archive

Hugo Ball Performances

I Zimbra (Lyrics by Hugo Ball, performed by David Byrne in 1998)

Gadji beri bimba clandridi
Lauli lonni cadori gadjam
A bim beri glassala glandride
E glassala tuffm I zimbra
Bim blassa galassasa zimbrabim
Blassa glallassasa zimbrabim
A bim beri glassala grandrid
E glassala tuffm I zimbra
Gadji beri bimba glandridi
Lauli lonni cadora gadjam
A bim beri glassasa glandrid
E glassala tuffm I zimbra

(there is no translation, thus it means the same to everyone)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Steve Roach

You find your passion, what Joseph Campbell would call following your bliss, where your energy feels complete. You create, you put something out and you get something back and it starts to generate this momentum in your life. For me it was like this endless feedback loop of energy that would continue to keep building. You can channel that into your work, the medium is incidental, it's the process that you connect into through your own inner process of being an artist. Your priorities for your daily life, what you focus in on, all of those parameters add up to your life, living authentically purely dedicated to it, doing the best you can. Feed it, nourish it, you have got to put the time in. It's not social media time, it's not building a brand. It is about developing your own voice and a deep connection to your creative process.

Find out what that passion is and start being, start making a personal investment of time and dedication, focus. Start studying on your own, now there are so many ways to learn things these days, YouTube for example. Connect with the artists you are inspired by through immersing in their work. In my case I discovered the music of German electronic artist Klaus Schulze. While I never met him at that time I was able to learn and understand things through deeper listening to his work that were pivotal in my development.

Things can happen if you apply yourself. You do not have to get approval from anybody, you should feel good about what you are doing. Create your own circle of life, find your ways of feeding into that core of your own values. Don't get caught up in over-judging your own process. Follow your bliss.

I have a deep sense of yearning for something just around the corner while at the same time I connect to a still point of being in the present every day. I wake up and I am just in it, ready for what is next. My motivation is inner driven.  The more you tap into these worlds the more it opens up, you just keep seeing the next horizon line and the next horizon line after that, you draw from the strength and value that brought you to this point. That is the motivating factor, that pushes you forward to the next one.

The combination of technology and music feeds into your own personal desire to connect higher and deeper into what it is to be alive, you try to find these sound worlds, or to make new forms of art, it is endless and never ending, the more you can tap into that the stronger the whole, there are so many layers to that, and it's not just a metaphor, you have to invent your own process and to make the right choices, be pragmatic about instruments or the tools that you are using and value your time. The value of time should never be taken for granted.

As each year goes by, more than ever I find that life is an hourglass with a limited amount of sand, different things will come in to the sand, a teaspoon, a bucket, a shovel, they all take time from the hourglass, so the importance of time awareness that sand taken out is the that time I have.

Every day I feel a great creative vitality, I feel the importance of my connections and priorities, relationships, family, all those things.

Steve Roach

Sunday, August 11, 2019

John Stephen French

I promised not to ask him about Don Van Vliet, and I did not. Everybody
always asks about Don and this is time to talk about John. But of course Captain
Beefheart influenced everyone so here it all is:

The drummer establishes the music's foundation and Mr. French developed a strange
complex rhythmic sound that still amazes rock and roll lovers around the world.

In 1969 The Magic Band with Captain Beefheart had only two fans that mattered.
When they were performing most of the record buying public did not know what
to make of the strange rhythms and bizarre exaggerated barking and yodeling blues
vocals. Those two fans were Jann Wenner and John Peel. Wenner is the founder of
Rolling Stone Magazine, and John Peel was a radio personality, whose real name
was John Robert Parker Ravenscroft OBE, "the most important man in music for about
a dozen years" (says fellow DJ Paul Gambaccini) because he boldly featured emerging
musicians and genres including pop, dub reggae, punk rock and post-punk, electronic
music and dance music, indie rock, extreme metal, and British hip hop. He played stuff
he recognized as breaking open new territory and enjoyed the controversy of taking risks.

I first heard the name Captain Beefheart through Frank Zappa albums back in 1970 or
so and just had to hear whatever it was they were doing, I was a new vegetarian so the
name stuck in my head like a nightmare that I could not understand, but I could not stop
thinking about it. Sure enough the sound changed everything I had come to understand
about rock music. I knew the band was talking to me, mostly because everyone was so
freaked out about their sound, crazy convulsive rhythms and defiant references to other
pop phenoms like the Beatles: “Rather than I want to hold your hand I wanna swallow you
whole…” (Lick my Decals Off, Baby)

“In the July 26, 1969, issue of Rolling Stone, the legendary rock critic Lester Bangs called it
"the most unusual and challenging musical experience you'll have this year," and referred
to the lyrics as "an explosion of maniacal free-association incantations." Trout Mask Replica
is the most art-damaged, blues wailin', freak show ever committed to record. You can see
straights run and hide, teeny boppers cover their ears, and hippies crawl away in horror as
the sounds here are unleashed. A simple overview of the LP here cannot do it justice.
Whether you take it all as a serious artistic statement, or as a insanely ravaging assault, one
thing is for certain, there is no other record quite like it in the entire library of recorded

What have been your most important musical or artistic discoveries? 

JSF: That you can’t really be “taught” art. 
It’s something you’re born with. Yep, I took
music-reading lessons, but the real work is
learning to communicate your inward vision
with the outside world.  People can teach you
the mechanics of an instrument, but they can’t
teach you how to bring the inside to the surface.

JULY 26, 1969 4:00AM ET
Trout Mask Replica

“Captain Beefheart, the only true dadaist in rock, has been victimized repeatedly by public
incomprehension and critical authoritarianism. The tendency has been to chide C. B. and
his Band as a potentially acceptable blues band who were misled onto the paths of greedy
trendy commercialism. What the critics failed to see was that this was a band with a vision,
that their music, difficult raucous and rough as it is, proceeded from a unique and original

“This became dramatically apparent with their last album. Since their music derived as
much from the new free jazz and African chant rhythms as from Delta blues, the songs
tended to be rattly and wayward, clattering along on wierdly jabbering high-pitched
guitars and sprung rhythms. But the total conception and its execution was more in the
nature of a tribal Pharoh Sanders Archie Shepp fire-exorcism than the ranting noise of the
Blue Cheer strain of groups.”

“Thus it’s very gratifying to say that Captain Beefheart’s new album is a total success, a
brilliant, stunning enlargement and clarification of his art. Which is not to say that it’s in
any sense slick, “artistic,” or easy. This is one of the few bands whose sound has actually
gotten rawer as they’ve matured a brilliant and refreshing strategy. Again the rhythms and
melodic textures jump all over the place (in the same way that Cecil Taylor’s do), Beefheart
singing like a lonesome werewolf screaming and growling in the night. The songs clatter
about given a superficial listening, they seem boring and repetitious. It’s perhaps the
addition of saxophones (all played by the five men in the band) that first suggests what’s
really happening here and always has been happening in this group’s music.”

Is music a good choice of vocations, or is it a compulsion? 

JSF: It’s not really a vocation. 
It’s not either a compulsion.
It is a desire, and it often outweighs the practical. 
The gifted are often exploited.  



“Trout Mask Replica is one of the weirdest and wildest albums ever to be released. Landing on record store shelves on June 16, 1969, Captain Beefheart's masterpiece amazed, confused, irritated and enthralled anyone who dared listen to it. While certainly not the most listenable of Beefheart's albums, it remains his most well-known and most captivating, losing none of its distinct charm or fire over the years.”

“On first listen, Trout Mask Replica sounds like a wild, incomprehensible rampage through the blues. Don Van Vliet (a.k.a. Captain Beefheart) growls, rants and recites poetry over chaotic guitar licks. But every note was precisely planned in advance – to construct the songs, the Magic Band rehearsed 12 hours a day for months on end in a house with the windows blacked out. (Producer and longtime friend Frank Zappa was then able to record most of the album in less than five hours.) The avant-garde howl of tracks such as "Ella Guru" and "My Human Gets Me Blues" have inspired modern primitives from Tom Waits to PJ Harvey.”

Are you able to bring music back from your nocturnal dreams? 

JSF: Was in a play once, and there were lyrics I was
supposed to sing, but no music.  I dreamed I sang
the lyrics and awakened with the melody. The
human mind is amazing.

From Rolling Stone’s 1970 Cover Story:

“When I bought Trout Mask Replica, entirely on faith — encouraged by the affordable price,
especially for a double LP, and the association with Beefheart’s high school friend Frank
Zappa, who produced the record and issued it on his Straight label — I listened at first in
shock, then embarrassment, as if I lacked the hipness to ride this atonality. But I refused to
quit, playing at least one side a day and studying the six-page lyric insert like homework until
I felt some connection, if not equilibrium. I came to realize that I didn’t need to understand
the music; it was enough to lose yourself in it, to enjoy the sheer audacity and secret-society
appeal — here was a record that wasn’t going to let just anyone inside — and let the restlessly
moving parts congeal in their own time.”

Did your parents make you practice? 

JSF: No, I made myself practice. 
Usually about 1 ½ hours a day.

ROLLING STONE JUNE 15, 2019 9:11AM ET “On Trout Mask Replica, breaking through the
limits of coherence and cohesion already reset in the wide-open liberty of rock in the late
Sixties, Van Vliet and his greatest Magic Band — guitarists Bill Harkleroad and Jeff Cotton,
bassist Mark Boston, clarinetist Victor Hayden and drummer John French — established new
margins of personal, idiosyncratic expression, much as the Velvet Underground did for drone,
minimalism and literary transgression. But even Van Vliet — who continued to press his
singular, soulful dada onto records as varied and inspirational as 1970’s Lick My Decals Off,
Baby; the near-pop of 1972’s Clear Spot; and his true triumph, 1980’s Doc at the Radar
Station — never made another album as foreign and raw as Trout Mask, maybe because
it was too dangerous to go back there.”

What would you tell a youngster about getting ideas for composing? 

JSF: Listen for your inner music. 
Communicate it via voice to a recording. 
Process the idea later. It’s often difficult to do the
mechanics of composing when in creative mode.  

Rolling Stone: DAVID FRICKE June 15, 2119 “Released 150 years ago, on June 16th, 1969,
Trout Mask Replica — the third studio album by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band —
still sounds like a tomorrow that has not arrived, a music created at a crossroads of sound
and language so far distant it continues to defy definitive summation and universal
translation. Guitars jut out at improbably severe angles in ice-pick treble, like broken bones
slicing through skin. The drumming comes in a rush of agendas, U-turn spasms of loose-limbed
time and tempo under melodies which, in turn, feel like they are yet only partially born, still
evolving in sense and structure. The singing is another primal logic altogether, an extreme
in octaves and sustain that goes from hellhound bass to wracked falsetto, the pictorial
cut-up frenzy of the lyrics run through archaic Delta-blues vernacular.”

Does the album cover come about during or after the music has been imagined? 

JSF: It’s totally different with
different artists, so there is no
“stock” answer.  

Here is The Book:

Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic
Paperback – 2013 by John "Drumbo" French (Author)
Publisher: Proper Music Publishing ISBN-10: 095612125X ISBN-13: 978-0956121257


1987 Crazy Backwards Alphabet
1987 Live, Love, Larf & Loaf
1990 Invisible Means
1994 Waiting on the Flame
1998 O Solo Drumbo
2000 Grow Fins
2007 Crazy Backwards Alphabet II
2008 City of Refuge


interview 10.9.10

The Trap Set interview

Rough Trade East interview

The making of TMR interview by Samuel Andreyev

More John French goodies French Frith Kaiser Thompson -- Drumbo ogie Magic Band Live at Band on the Wall

“To the Loft of Ravenscroft”

The Magic Band 2013

Drumbo Solo 2012

Drumbo Solo 2011

Click Clack

Moonlight On Vermont

On Tomorrow