Hi friends and welcome to a one of a kind website about music, occasionally writing, and other fun topics. My name's Donald Neu, and I am a huge fan of alternative/indie rock, but I also listen to nearly every other kind of music. Enjoy the site!
Sometimes I wake up early in the morning, even on days off. On those occasions I can either fall back asleep or if I feel "wired awake" already then I use my extra time to get some music stuff done. Like today for example, I woke up at about 6. I tried just resting and listening to my MP3 player, but the music I listened to suddenly inspired me! So I got crackin' on my laptop and added some new "vocal chops" to my song in progress. This song is called "Indeterminate Aspirations" and will feature as one of the top tracks on ModdRN KlazziX CD release. Yes folks, I'm still hyping it up; just not sure when I'll finally place the order. There's still songs to finish and designs to be made. Some may even like this future CD better than my debut, Phrosty Muzak! I'm even getting T-shirts with the order!
I took the day off Friday and boy I'm glad I did. This bum got to be a bedroom producer and player of video games all day. I also did laundry and yoga which is less fun.
This isn't one of my new works, but for whomever likes binaural beats-
Saturday I enjoyed hanging out with my friends Luke and John. We played Grand Theft Auto 5, watched Avengers Endgame, and had pizza for dinner. Good times!
Sunday I had dinner with my dad and stepmom at China Buffet. After they left I practiced guitar then watched the movie Office Christmas Party. I wasn't sure if I liked it at first but it ended up being really funny! Even a movie you watch alone can lift your spirits.
I am entertaining the idea of creating another mixtape for SoundCloud...
I have been chatting online with this act called GOHzur, sounds like they're stoked to remix one of my songs! More on that later. 😁💪💣
Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and other streaming services have basically eviscerated physical music media and radio. So why put out a CD? Quite a question to grapple with when you scope it out. Well, there are a lot of adults of varying age that still remember the hay-day of CD's and feel nostalgia for them. CD's are the vinyl of the digital age; actually they work much the same. A beam of light reads microscopic grooves burned into the disc. The only difference with records is a needle physically touches and picks up sound from the groove. Both are known for excellent sound quality if properly cared for. As a do-it-yourself bedroom producer I feel like CD's are a big deal. This is because when someone pops your CD into their car stereo, boom box, game console, etc. they are listening to specifically that. A CD has less distractions than a smartphone and no adds. I feel like people won't just loose interest in my music right away and listen to someone else. Another plus to putting a CD out with a replicator is you can pay a little extra for "in-house mastering". This is where the replicator hires an audio engineer to sweeten up the mix of every song featured on your CD. Sure, you can buy just remastering for songs online, but why not get two birds stoned and get an order of CD's at the same time?
Rick Brix is a full time bonafide one man band! I met Rick at an Asperger's Syndrome support group of which he is founder. After going to group awhile, we became great friends. Despite some distance between our homes we still hang out and record jams from time to time & he's taken me along for some open mics. This advances both our careers! I just love playing at open mics! I am also thankful for his sage advice and perspective. And now... the interview
What first inspired you to pick up a guitar?
I got my first guitar when I was 12 or 13. It as a Yamaha acoustic 6-string. I believe it was a Christmas present from my parents. I got my first electric, a Fender Bullet, when I was 15, a birthday present from my parents. The guitar came with 10 lessons from Schmitt Music. Then I took lessons from Adam Granger at the Homestead Pickin' Parlor with my d's when I was in high school in the late 1980s. I wanted to learn to play but like Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.
My dad also took lessons with Adam Granger. I stopped taking lessons in 1990 when I went to the University of St Thomas from 1990-1994. I just started taking lessons with Adam again about 2 years ago.
How do you develope and evolve your musicianship at guitar, harmonica, and vocals?
I practice at least 2 hours every day. When I don't have a gig I usually practice 4-5 hours per day. I develop my playing by learning new songs, scales, techniques, and improvising while playing at my gigs, as well as taking guitar lessons.
Do you learn music mostly from chords, tabs, sheet music, by ear or some combination of those?
I learn mostly by tab, lessons, instructional videos, as well as by ear. I have been trying to learn more by ear. In the past, I mostly learned by guitar tab in tablature books as well as online and with tablature-based computer programs. Playing with other people also helps to develop learning, skills, and musicianship.
With so many gigs how do you stay passionate with each performance?
I stay passionate because I do what I love and play the music I love to play. I also mix up my songs a lot and learn new songs. I probably have a repertoire of round 1,000 songs. There are a couple hundred that I play regularly at my gigs. The other 800 or so song get mixed in depending on my mood and what I feel like playing. I also mix in some of my originals. And I am constantly trying to improve what I already do. I try to mix in a few new licks here and there.
I see you perform some originals. When you write a song do you start with chords & riffs or with the words?
When I write original songs I usually start with a chord progression and/or a riff. Occasionally I will have lyrics in mind and then come up with the chords and riffs.
Do you have any somewhat obscure musicians who inspire you?
There are many local musicians inspire me. I learn a lot at open Mic nights. I also occasionally go to other musician's gigs. Listening and watching other musicians can inspire me when writing songs, as well as trying and developing techniques. A few people who I admire are Adam Granger (my guitar teacher), Dave Coffell, Adam Hammer, Nathan Ness, Leon Laudenbac
Do you have any unusual sources on inspiration? Or do you have any ways of getting inspired that many people just wouldn't guess?
Sometimes listening to music I don't usually listen to: an artist or genre I don't usually listen to, can be a source of inspiration for songwriting and coming up with riffs and chord progressions.
Were you in any bands in years past?
I have been in a few bands over the years. Most don't last long for me. I don't like being tied down to other people's agenda. Being a one-man band gives me the freedom to play what I want to play and make my own schedule. I do play with a couple other musicians at some of my gigs. Right now, I play 15-20 gigs per month with another guy, Joel, who plays trumpet, piano, and sings. We call ourselves B & B (which stands for Brix and Bartos, our last names)
Tell me a little about your music gear.
I currently play a Taylor 210 model guitar which I purchased in 2016. I have 2 Mackie powered speakers which I also purchased in 2016. I purchased these with the help of Tri-Cap, an organization in Stearns County, through a program that helps low-income start-up entrepreneurs, as well as college students and first time home owners. It was a two year savings plan in which for every dollar I saved, Tri-Cap added 3 dollars. In those 2 years I saved up $4,000 which I used to buy my guitar and sound system.
And lastly, how can someone book you for a gig?
If someone wants to book me for a gig, all they have to do is call or message me at 320-420-0704 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. They cab view my website where I have videos of me performing, a list of some of the songs I perform, and my current schedule. I also give guitar lessons at my home in St Cloud, MN.
X-Kray was my first legit FL studio EDM (electronic dance music) song. I composed and sequenced it back in 2015. It is very original but doesn't really have many effects. It has a way of jumping smoothly yet spontaneously to a completely different melody. Sometimes I use a sound that seems to jump out at you in the transition. Like a fractal, there's this sense of chaos and repetition. These are stylings I would continue to develop. In my EDM songs to follow I'd delve more into effects and sound design, also working with samples. I continue to experiment in FL studio and other programs. I don't really have a specific formula. There's a lot of experimentation and trial and error. Many things I still don't know how to do. I never stop learning. Lately to speed things up I have been sequencing a bunch of beats and melodies and fit them into place later. I don't even worry about key signature until after. Doing what I feel in the moment and not over thinking it is my new style! There's still things I do very purposefully, but mostly I'm winging it. In that spirit, I am titling my upcoming EDM work- Indeterminate Aspirations! So now for the song that started it all, X-Kray!
Fuzzy Logic in the context of artificial intelligence would mean that a machine would think in "degrees of truth" rather than the usual binary "true or false" (1 or 0). In theory it is how a robot could think and make decisions like a human. This is an instrumental techno work inspired be the idea.
I've been quite well. One thing has dawned on me- how much more open with people I am. It is this openness along with my own better understanding myself and keeping a journal that has helped me greatly. Things that might have put me in an Asperger's Shutdown years ago don't today. There is no shame in having a disability and needing some supports in place. There is no shame in going to therapy. There is no shame in having a psychiatrist. In addition to being Asperger I am also bipolar. Maybe these fuel my creativity. At least that is putting a positive spin on it. My mind can go to weird uncomfortable places. I don't claim to have a magic elixir, but those are things which help me.
Here is a song I wrote about feeling neurotic and stuck in obsessions-
I'll simply let the music and lyrics speak for themselves.
I'm excited to be starting guitar lessons again today!
It feels good that I continue to invest in my talent.
Two goals of 2020 are to host 4th annual Birthday Bonanza & release ModdRN KlassiX album!